Casting is important in a film, and when you’ve got it, you’ve got it. Peter Lee, the writer and director of Angelfish, screening as part of TIFF’s Next Wave, won big when he cast Princess Nokia and Jimi Stanton as his leads. These roles make or break the film, and the chemistry they have with one another is palpable and a joy to behold.
One can survive a personal hell for the love of an angel.
Eva (Nokia) and Brendan (Stanton) are from different neighbourhoods of New York. Eva’s mother came from Puerto Rico and has worked her entire life to give her children the best opportunities that she can. She is determined that Eva will go to college, and marry a good boy. Brendan has a brother who is courting danger with the law, and an alcoholic absentee mother.
Neither of them are living their best lives, but together, they may never be rich, the may never get out of the borough, but they’ll be happy.
Stanton reminds me of a young Josh Brolin, and there is a lot going on behind those eyes, and when he lets you in, his character really comes to life. Nokia brings a deceptively easy grace and charm to her performance, and watching the pair of them, you can’t help but believe in their relationship.
Angelfish is very much an old-fashioned love story re-purposed for the modern era, and while some of the film’s camerawork threw me from the film (I know it’s there to suggest intimacy and immediacy, but sometimes you need to pull back and give us more), the simple, and honest tale wrapped me up nicely, and let me recall those heady days of youth, when just a look from someone you crushed on could make the day bearable.
- Release Date: 2/12/2020