Cowboy Angels
[A L'Arrache]
© 2007 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

Jean-Claude Carrière and Raoul Ruiz and in various production capacities on films
directed by Tom DiCillo, Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders, among others. In the
last few years, she has also made a handful of short films and now makes her
feature directorial debut with
COWBOY ANGELS, a road movie about the growing
relationship between a prepubescent boy (Diego Mestanza, the director's son) and
the mysterious man (Thierry Levaret) the child has hired to drive him to Spain.

Eleven-year-old Kevin (Mestanza) hangs out in a café playing video games while
his floozy of a mother (Françoise Klein) attempts to pick up a guy -- any guy
with money will do. Mother and son are living in a hotel and one day, mom
announces that she's heading off for a few days, although it's never really clear
whether she intends to return. Left to his own devices, Kevin (who also answers to
the name Pablo, although it is never really clear whether this is indeed his name or
just an affectation) gloms onto the one person who had shown him kindness --
Louis (Levaret). Louis had once treated the kid to a soda and on that shaky
foundation, Kevin decides to "adopt" the man. Following Louis around and spying
on him, he learns that Louis is a gambler who may or may not be mixed up with the
Mob. Having fleeced some men at poker, Louis is flush with cash -- although two of
the other players return to beat him up and relieve him of the money. Kevin/Pablo
makes him an offer: he will pay Louis to drive him to Spain where the boy can be
reunited with his father. Reluctantly Louis agrees and the pair set off on the road.

From that point on, the film becomes something of a road trip that recalls the
journey Bill Murray made in
BROKEN FLOWERS. Louis and Pablo/Kevin travel to
Spain and back, stopping at the homes of various men who once had consorted
with the boy's mother. The object being that someone may be willing to take the kid
permanently. All the while, Louis and the youngster begin to bond. When they reach
one village, they meet waitress Billie (Noëlie Giraud) and for a moment, it appears
that the trio may form an unlikely family.

But Massee and co-screenwriter Chloé Marçais don't opt for easy answers. While
on the road, Louis and the boy argue and the public altercation leads to police
intervention and a denouement that is not quite what the audience may expect.

Massee has a nice touch with the actors but the low-budget production values don't
exactly help. The cinematography is muddy lending an unattractive pallor to the
entire feature. The director also composed a song for the film's soundtrack that
rather blatantly states the obvious theme:
"A Blessing in Disguise." It's a catchy
ditty, but instead of deploying it judiciously, Massee overuses it to the point of
redundancy.

COWBOY ANGELS isn't a total washout and it does indicate that Massee has
talent, although she has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as
some of the directors with whom she has worked.



                            
Rating:                C+
Thierry Levaret as Louis in
Directed by Kim Massee,
France, 2007, 100 min.

© 2007 Artworx Films