Review by Mark Schwab
November 5th, 2017
There are plenty of intriguing choices made in James Kicklighter's 16-minute short film ANGEL OF ANYWHERE, a tightly scripted drama centering around a male stripper and his empathy for the patrons who hire him for back room VIP shows.
At the Club Anywhere, Angel (Axel Roldos) strips down, flashes a sly crooked grin and generally seems to be making a decent living attracting women (and men occasionally) to pay extra for VIP-room shows (as Angel describes it, "Nothing crazy but it's certainly more private."). It is in those back rooms where we meet a couple of those lonely souls who show more nudity metaphorically with their inner unhappiness than Angel does with his body. Surprisingly, Angel listens without judgement and even offers gentle advice with a hint of compassion.
You might think you've seen this set up before....the hooker with a heart of gold scenario....but ANGEL OF ANYWHERE is smarter than expected and goes into mature issues around relationships and sexuality with a particularly potent ending. I was especially impressed with the Angel character and how he is written and performed. Angel isn't written as some physical beauty that spouts off bumper sticker therapy quotes. Yes, Axel Roldos looks like he could have stepped off the set of MAGIC MIKE but I really liked the way Roldos embodied being present with the people in those back rooms. Kicklighter makes sure that Angel is actually listening and it works very well. You want to watch him on screen which is critical in your lead actor. It's good casting, it's good direction...and it's totally believable. He carries the movie nicely and the 16-minute running time flies quickly.
All of the acting here is strong and the photography and sound are handled by pros. My one quibble is that there is quite a lot of obvious symbolism throughout and while it is all appropriate I think it could have benefited from a lighter touch.
But ANGEL OF ANYWHERE has an intelligent script, a great cast and a lead character that makes you care. It's a damn good short film that is worth checking out. You can read more about it here.