Boy With Angel Wings, directed, written and produced by Frantzy Moreau, is a beautifully crafted and deeply affecting family drama that addresses themes of redemption and relational reconciliation. The film follows Enoch (Frantzy Moreau), a young adult who is returning home for the holidays to his sister Mya (Racquel B. John) and nephew Josh (Rodsheed Thornton), his only remaining family members, four years after his father’s (Emmett Hunter) passing. In the absence of parental figures, the family is dysfunctional and separated: there’s a traumatic past lingering in the house that has not been properly opened up or healed. As Enoch takes a walk something happens to him, and how he responds to this will determine his life – and the life of the family.
Boy With Angel Wings does a masterful job of revealing and obscuring information to drive the disorienting depth of the film. It is emotionally repressed, dealing with masculinity and fatherhood, yet bursts forth with a feeling that catches you off guard. The film, comfortable withholding facts, expertly develops mystery and intrigue without sacrificing the audience’s connection to the characters. Formally, Boy With Angel Wings is told across a couple of different time periods and the way the film switches between these is adept. In particular, the use of phone video footage, the film switching between a younger Enoch interviewing his father and an older Enoch watching it back, generates a strong nostalgia and a feeling of remembrance.
The film succeeds as a result of the central performances from John, Hunter and particularly Moreau. Moreau’s subtle facial expressions break through his steely-eyed exterior, as he plays the confused and troubled side of Enoch’s character brilliantly. Enoch’s situation is intense and believable, as we gradually come to terms with the family dynamics and his past. There are moments of staging and overacting between Moreau and John, which breaks the immersion a little, but overall the acting perfectly depicts the turmoil and tension at the heart of the family and the wider community. Boy With Angel Wings hits every emotional beat.
There is a redemptive message at the heart of the film, which is both hopeful and miraculous. The film builds its motifs well—objects are key to the story—and the conclusion is satisfying in this regard. The film ruminates on a range of themes: cycles of violence; broken and bereaved families; legacies and the world we leave behind; the absence of father figures. Boy With Angel Wings, with all of its traumatic subject matter, also leaves room for the possibility of change. The film presents the potential for resurrection: the radical conversion of a person to a new way of thinking and, crucially, to a new way of living. It understands what it is to be protected, supported and encouraged in the face of darkness—to resist the plunge into helplessness.
The technical elements of the film, including cinematography by Isaac Mead-Long, are equally impressive and they serve the story well—contributing to the effective exploration of past memories. The film uses hazy soft light which, combined with a low-level synth score at moments, constructs a reflective and meditative atmosphere. The film also uses silence effectively, and every single word feels deserving of attention. Again, due to the formal choice to have Enoch videoing other characters in the past, his nephew and his father are often addressing the camera directly—looking straight at you—which makes the message and the grief all the more incisive.
Boy With Angel Wings is a delicately directed film that handles the sensitivity of its themes with an undeniable effortlessness. It addresses the paralysis of becoming an adult in the contemporary world, of taking on responsibilities before your time, and the sense of loss—or just confusion—that comes along with that. The film is delightfully introspective, taking you into the thoughts and feelings of Enoch, as well as engendering a genuine active response from the audience.
Boy With Angel Wings urges you to assess your own relationships with those you love: it is a call to empathetic self-sacrifice.