Angel

Ladymol's Review

This film won best actor, best screenplay and best picture at the Greek equivalent of the Oscars in 1982. It doesnít say much for the Greek film industry. I found this film pretty much unwatchable. The 80s look didnít help, but it wasnít just that. It was just unremittingly depressing without a redeeming feature.

A young gay man meets a sailor and falls in love (though God knows why; he was possibly the ugliest man Iíve seen so far in a film). The sailor then forces the young man out on the street dressed as a woman to earn money for him.

I suppose the film could be called groundbreaking, if no gay movies had previously been made or distributed in Greece. It hardly shows gays or gay life in a positive light though. Rather it plays to all the stereotypes about gay men.

I certainly wonít be watching this one again.


Cerisaye's Review

Angel, a good looking young Greek with sad, sad eyes thinks heís found the man of his dreams to take him away from a drunken father and the grinding poverty of his Athenian home when he meets a hunky and extremely macho sailor who promises to take care of him.†

Angel had been living a quiet life in the closet, a dutiful son helping his mother look after a disabled sister and earning money working in a jewellers shop.†

At first all is well, and the lovers set up house, with Angel in the role of devoted wife.† A concerned former lover warns Angel about his new partner, but heís in love and ignores this older manís plea to go with him somewhere men like them can be free.

Angelís ex is, of course, proved right.† By day Angel undergoes army training after being called up for military service, while by night the sailor sends him out to work as a transvestite prostitute to support his lifestyle.† Inevitably, Angel gets caught by the police and outed, with dramatic consequences.†

After that itís all downhill.† A series of brutal encounters with gay-bashing homophobes (some probably clients) leaves Angel traumatised and disillusioned, and finally he sees the sailor for what he is, as the story reaches its shocking conclusion.

This film was released in 1982, the first openly gay Greek movie.† It is grim, dark and very depressing, so donít pick it up if youíre looking for an eveningís entertainment.† Based on a true life crime, it shows- not exactly with subtlety- how traditional macho Greek culture forces men to repress their sexuality and emotions, and the consequences.†

Angel is annoyingly passive, a natural victim.† I had difficulty understanding why he didnít get out of an abusive exploitative relationship though I know such things go on in reality.† Yet we know Angel had a kind ex lover and at least one trick treats him with respect.† It is similar to how early gay literature is filled with self-loathing men who donít get happy endings.† Angelís sailor transforms his male lover into a submissive female caricature to deny heís gay, and Angel goes along with it because he knows HE is.

The story develops Angelís family background, to explain why he has become what he is, with both mum and granny having been whores.† All the same Angelís lurid fate is right out of the old-fashioned all-gays-are-psychologically-unbalanced school of thought that plays to rightwing prejudices.† Angel appears to welcome his fate, with those mournful eyes and quiet resignation, very frustrating to watch.

There are graphic scenes of violence and a sex scene thatís virtual rape, though to balance that thereís a nice first-time sequence where Angel gives a married man what he needs.† Scenes of gay life- men having furtive nocturnal encounters outdoors rounded up by homophobic police, transvestites soliciting customers who need the illusion theyíre with a woman- give the film authenticity.

Worth a look if you donít mind melodrama and heavy symbolism.† Iíd like to think this is gay history, something to look back at and reflect on how things have changed for the better.† However, maybe thatís complacent.