Directed by James Kicklighter
Starring Axel Roldos, Briana Evigan, Ser’Darius Blain, David A. Gregory, Nihan Gur, Krystal Conway
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
For many, the strip club location is synonymous with the crime thriller genre. The darkened rooms, shady characters and sinful atmosphere make for a perfect accompaniment to a nefarious story. So it will surprise some viewers that filmmaker James Kicklighter has set his latest short film, Angel of Anywhere, in such an establishment, with a storyline that contains wholesome therapy and the release of pent up emotional distress in what is a remarkably intelligent and impressive piece of drama.
We are introduced to Angel (Axel Roldos) standing nonchalantly by his car outside a dimly lit building. The camera then follows him through the crowded strip club where he stops, centre stage, ready to perform to the eager crowd. After having his chiseled abdominal muscles then decorated with dollar bills, Angel goes into a back room with Michelle (Briana Evigan), who admits to being a first-timer in the club before regaling Angel with her innermost turmoils. Later we see Angel back in the same room, this time with a male punter (Ser’Darius Blain), who, after trying to get the "party" physical, also settles into a heart-to-heart with our protagonist, revealing deep-set issues.
Aside from the wonderful dialogue between the main players, Kicklighter also adorns his short film with a visual smorgasbord of filmmaking treats. From the aforementioned one-take opening of Angel entering the club, to a charming little sequence where he fixes a lightbulb, several sequences in Angel of Anywhere are beautifully filmed and delivered. There is a daring to the craft that does not let the central themes do all of the heavy lifting. Instead, the aesthetic and mise en scéne are just as integral to the movie's power as the characters and dialogue. This can be seen in the wonderfully atmospheric backroom where the key scenes take place, with its cold blue light and sparseness, and Angel filling the room with his almost naked body. This expertly suited the emotional vulnerability of the characters who entered.
Little flourishes of intrigue are also to be found across Angel of Anywhere. Such as the central character's seemingly supernatural ability to fix electricals, or his staunch opposition to narcotics. If this were to be a feature film, there is already a magnificent amount of meat on the bones in terms of compelling characters and weighty motifs. Once the characters start revealing more about themselves, lots of interesting topics surrounding relationships, masculinity, life and desire ensue.
There is an honesty to this short that audiences will find addictive. Characters get laid bare in a stark environment by a character who emanates an ethereal presence. Slick and stylish throughout, hats off to DoP Jonathan Pope, this is one strip club film lovers should frequent.
Watch the official movie trailer for short film Angel of Anywhere below...