American independent cinema currently seems to thrive on small town misery. From Winter’s Bone to Wendy and Lucy, never before has the gapping wealth divide in the U.S been so exposed. Now adding her voice into this choir of human sorrow is UK film director Gaby Dellal with her sophomore effort Angels Crest.
During the calm aftermath of an unrelenting blizzard, Ethan (Thomas Dekker) takes his young son Nate up to the glacial mountains which over shadow their peaceful rural town for a day of snow fuelled fun. Nate falls asleep on course to their destination and not wanting to wake the peaceful looking youngster Ethan decides to carelessly leave the boy in his pickup truck to investigate the presence of a dear in the nearby woodland. On return it appears Nate has gone missing, unable to find him Ethan calls the local authorities who commence a painstakingly arduous sweep across this cold barren territory in the vain hope they’ll find the toddler before the arrival of nightfall and the deadly freezing temperate which accompanies it.
As the hours unwind it becomes clear the task is not going to have a happy outcome and when Nate is found lying motionless in the snow a torrid series of events unfold which tears this peaceful town apart. With each corner of the local community trying to individually judge how the blame should be placed tempers fray, especially whilst external influences intrude in an attempt to decide the severity of Ethan’s destructive moment of negligence.
This bleak and harrowing depiction of how one fateful action can tear a peaceful community apart is wonderfully presented through Dellal’s choice of location which feels as fittingly cold and inhospitably as the small town’s inhabitants.
Dekker in the lead role of Ethan pulls of a performance of assured maturity. However, it becomes had not to ignore that Dellal’s youthful looking cast seem drastically out of place in this impoverished town. Her attempts to portray the devastating effects of a ‘baby’ losing their baby would no doubt have been more effective in her choice of actors seemed a little more natural to their environment and thus easier to believe in.
It’s a shame as this glaringly irritating flaw prevents the film’s otherwise confident technical approach and strong script from evoking the same degree of an emotive response as the subject matter demands.
Overall Angels Crest, like its central protagonist Ethan, makes one fatal mistake which unfortunately ruins its future prospects. The one shining light to prevail from this films casting misstep is the platform it has created for its miscast but no less impressive central actor. Thomas Dekker can safely add this monumental performance to his already accomplished back catalogue and in helping advance his promising career we should be thankful to Angels Crest.
For an interview with director Gaby Dellal which took place during the Edinburgh Film Festival please click here to visit FlickFest.