Directed by: #PhilippeDib
Enmeshed in the world of sex, drugs, and chains two lost souls fight to survive and bring meaning to their lives on the back streets of Hollywood.
Shot in 1992 and released in 1996, this film is almost three decades old and let me tell you, it feels it. Not just due to the gritty setting with dirty content and raunchy scenes with old fashioned dialogue, the film actually looks dated. Prefacing this with the fact that hangout films are usually my thing. That said, it’s usually the type of hangout film that doesn’t contain a mass amount of drug use and sex, which Welcome Says the Angel is proudly guilty of.
Philippe Dib and actor / writer Jon Jacobs wrote Welcome says the Angel as a film they could shoot for approximately $17,000 on 16mm. They both met years prior and dropped everything to pursue their dream of filmmaking in Hollywood. This film saved Jon’s career when it received rave reviews from notable entertainment papers, so I can appreciate the grind and determination. If there’s one thing I can say for sure, beyond the overwhelming sexual and drug content, the acting from the cast is superb. This could have easily have been a film held up by audiences like Reservoir Dogs (Tim Roth ironically turned down a role in this film due to being away at Cannes for Tarantino’s classic) but personally I don’t think there’s enough happening within the grubby casing of Welcome Says the Angel. The tragic tale of someone trying to veer someone off drugs is of course the main story thread, though it feels like a path explored many times before (and after) to better affect.
Welcome Says the Angel is an appreciated effort but the repetitive nature and slow pace made for a slightly frustrating watch. As mentioned before, the acting is the real pull. It’s the style of performing made for a stage, in front of a filled theatre auditorium, where simple stories such as these just flow a lot better. As a piece of film media, it doesn’t quite click. The grainy 16mm flickering by with a classic soundtrack (with music by Noels Cline) does work well together, same goes for the editing. But it does seem to feel stuck in the 90s, the timelessness of other classics born from this time is non-existent in Philippe Dib’s film.
If you’re into heavy drug use and sexual themes, then you will likely find enjoyment in Welcome Says the Angel, but for the general film fan who likes some variety in thematic material and characters, this will probably be a hard miss.