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Australia 1995
Directed by
Michael Rymer
99 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Angel Baby

Were it not for the Australian accents you could easily mistake Michael Rymer's debut film for a UK production. John Lynch who plays the principal male is an imported Irish actor (his credits include Cal, 1984, and In The Name Of The Father, 1993) whilst Colin Friels as his brother adopts a credible Irish accent. The film's very tight framing virtually eliminates any reference to exterior locators, suggesting an anonymous urban landscape of empty malls, laundromats, high rises and construction sites that looks more like Glasgow or London (full marks to cinematographer Ellery Ryan for his contribution in this respect) than any recognisable Australian city and its preoccupation with the tragedies of life is more the approach we’re familiar with in British productions than those of The Lucky Country. In this latter respect Angel Baby is too darkly alienating for any kind of popular success but on the other hand thanks to Rymer’s confrontational script and persuasive directing and the excellent performances by Lynch and Jacqueline McKenzie (who is best known for her role in Romper Stomper,1992) as distressed souls, it packs an emotional punch which is also something rarely seen in Australian film.
Despite its lack of vernacular signifiers Angel Baby won 7 AFI Awards and is an impressive achievement for the American-trained Rymer. Unfortunately he subsequently returned to America where he has since worked largely in high profile television series with the occasional return to our shores. 




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