Angelo, My Love (1983)

“We’re not going to leave you alone until I get the ring, okay?”

Angelo Poster

Synopsis:
A precocious Greek gypsy boy (Angelo Evans) and his brother try to retrieve a family ring stolen by a conniving Russian gypsy (Steve Tsigonoff).

Genres:

Review:
Fourteen years before producing and directing The Apostle (1997), Robert Duvall helmed this neo-realist indie film about a little-known American subculture: gypsies in New York City. Its strength lies primarily in the central casting of real-life gypsy kid Angelo Evans (essentially playing himself, as does much of the cast), whose precocious energy drives the narrative: we both believe in and care about him from the first moment he’s on-screen. An early scene in which the illiterate Angelo struggles to maintain his pride in a public school classroom is quietly devastating, and immediately helps us to understand why he prefers to live in the “real world” — among adults — instead. Duvall is less successful in crafting a compelling overall narrative (the ring-heist plot is flimsy at best), but this ultimately doesn’t matter, given that we’re most interested in watching Angelo navigate the streets of New York, and gaining a sense of how this group of societal outcasts manages to maintain key elements of its ancient culture while surviving in a modern city. We may not approve of the gypsy lifestyle portrayed here, but it’s certainly memorable, and fascinating to observe for a short while.

P.S. See Mike Newell’s Into the West (1992) for a comparable — albeit more strategically crafted — film about modern-day Irish gypsies (known as “Travellers”) in Dublin.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Angelo Evans as himself
    Angelo Angelo
  • A fascinating ethnographic look at New York’s gypsy community
    Angelo Authentic

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look.

Links:

One Response to “Angelo, My Love (1983)”

  1. Not a must.

    First viewing.

    Perhaps the lack of a “compelling overall narrative” explains in part why ‘AML’ is something of a forgotten film. (If you check the title at IMDb, no one has written a review there. While it is often the case that one may find few reviews for a particular film at that site, finding none at all is more than rare.)

    One can’t help but think that Duvall’s interest in the subject matter grew organically out of his involvement with ‘The Godfather’ (the main element of ‘family honor’ being an obvious extension). However – as can often be the case with actors who also direct – Duvall is indulgent overall: the film goes on much longer than it needs to, and points are often belabored after they’ve been made.

    That said…yes, this is a marginal world of which we’re given a glimpse. If it’s not exactly an incisive look, the film has atmosphere and value as a character study.

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