El Ángel

The notorious Argentine criminal Carlos Robledo Puch committed dozens of robberies and at least ten murders before turning 18; this stylish docudrama considers the last few years of his life before his arrest in the early 1970s. As played by newcomer Lorenzo Ferro, Carlos is an alluring, sexually ambiguous blank (he often brings to mind Björn Andresen from Visconti’s Death in Venice) who engages in criminal activity for the momentary thrill of it. Director Luis Ortega fetishizes his star to such an extent that the movie often feels like softcore porn; much of the drama centers on the sexual curiosity Carlos arouses in the members of a criminal family with whom he becomes involved. The thematic focus on the interconnectedness of sex and crime suggests the influence of Jean Genet, while Ortega’s flashy direction recalls the exuberance of movies like Goodfellas and Boogie Nights. The form and content never really jibe, but this might get under your skin anyway. In Spanish with subtitles.