A gay “Bonnie and Clyde?” count us in!
While many were talking about Chris Pine during the Toronto International Film Festival, there was one Argentinian film that snuck its way into festival goers’ minds.
El Angel is based off of a true story. The film follows a young man named Carlitos Robledo (played by Lorenzo Ferro) in 1970s Argentina. Carlitos grew up loving to acquire other people’s things and that naturally matured into a love of theft . Then during his teenage years, Carlitos met Ramón (played by Chino Darín)l. The two then take off on a life of love, theft, and murder.
Film director Luis Ortega wanted to represent this real-life love story while putting it through a deceivingly beautiful gay love story lens.
Think of it as “Bonnie and Clyde” meets “Call Me By Your Name.”
But again, this film is based off of a real-life pair of crime partners.
“One of my best friends got to interview the real Carlitos in prison,” Luis Ortega told Remezcla. “He ended up writing a wonderful book about his life, and I fell in love with the idea of completely rewriting this story and making it my own.”
Ortega loved the idea of a crime film about a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“I was intrigued by what our idea of a criminal is. That the profile of a criminal is of an ugly, black, big-nosed, big-eared man, so when this cute mamma’s boy turns up people realized that there can be killers among us, and they can be good looking.”
As for the gay romance found in the film, it is slightly fictionalized as news sources never fully explored the idea when the real Carlitos was at his height of crime.
That said, Rodolfo Palacios’ book does leave the implication up to the readers, and Ortega chose to go with it.
“I took it as him being in love with his friend and partner in crime, and wanted to center the film on the love story more than the crime story.”
But did Ortega create a trope in making a villainous LGBTQ character where a real life person’s sexuality was still up-in-the-air?
Or perhaps, Ortega didn’t go too far. The real Calitos and Ramon were not only (allegedly) in love with each other, but were known to show interest in women to a violent extent. Not only did the duo steal and kill, but they also raped three women and shot a newborn baby. But to Ortega, this was too much to put into the film.
“I don’t like going to the movies to see people raping women, shooting them in the face. I wanted to adapt it to my world, my teenager experience, and add a little Bonnie and Clyde.”
Despite any misgivings and about artistic license, this film has received a favorable response from critics. It has even been chosen as Argentina’s submission for the “Best Foreign Language Film” category at the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.
So, is El Angel worth the watch? Does it’s twisted main characters depicted in a lighter tone make for a compelling movie? We’ll have to see as El Angel will premiere in select US theaters on November 9.