(Air Date: Week Of 01/29/97)
Angel Baby, the story of Harry and Kate, two schizophrenics who fall deliriously and ferociously in love - the rabid sex scenes are a memorable part of this film -- has a lot going for it. The originality of the plot and the characters, phenomenal acting by John Lynch and Jacqueline McKenzie as Harry and Kate, dynamite cinematography that creates visual images of dazzling beauty and power, sometimes meshing perfectly with a soundtrack that perfectly simulates the inner turmoil of schizophrenia.
That's a lotta good reasons to see Angel Baby. But director/writer Michael Rymer has to interject some inspirational stuff in this film, that I found less than inspirational. Kate and Harry meet in group therapy sessions at a psychiatric clinic, fall in love, and set up housekeeping together. The deal is that they can probably make it if they stay on their meds. He gets a job as a computer programming after perfectly finessing all the job interview questions like 'What have you been doing for the last two years since you left IBM?' since the prospective employer wouldn't be likely to be turned on by the news that he'd been under medical care for his schizophrenia. By the way, this film proves that schizophrenics make fine computer programmers.
The camera often zooms to episodes of The Wheel of Fortune, where Kate claims the answers to the puzzles are secret messages from her guardian angel, Astral, and Harry starts getting them, too. Frequent cuts to The Wheel of Fortune whenever the plot takes a turn made me want to fast forward after a while.
Anyway, domesticity is working out until Kate becomes pregnant, and the couple decide to have the baby, who they consider to be an incarnation of the angel Astral. O.K., the couple are fixated on this decision as life-affirming, great, but the film also suggests that, as viewers, we're supposed to identify with them. Now I'm generally more than willing to let myself freefall into a filmmaker's universe, but at this point my disbelief got un-suspended, and the film started falling apart for me. All I could do was place mental bets on how it would finally end up -- would the ending be behind door number 1, 2, or 3? Yes, there's the ol' hospital scene with premature labor, and cries of ''We have to do a Caesarian!' The screenplay writer picks door number 3 -- and it's a free trip to Never Never Land!!!
Copyright 1997 Mary Weems
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