Dec 30, 2018
I was cruising along great, getting the podcast wrapped up for the year, and sitting down to watch tomorrow’s movie, “A Twelve-Year Night” (Episode #365) to close out the year, and what do I see, but today’s film now available. I’m pretty sure there’s no one at Netflix watching this podcast to try and trip me up from seeing every Netflix Original film this year, but stuff like this makes me wonder. So, I rearranged the order for this week to make sure this got reviewed. Nice try, Netflix.
If you want to see my other reviews for every Netflix Original from 2018, head over to onemoviepunch.com and search the Netflix Original blog tag. I’ll be posting my top lists early next year, based on a variety of metrics. If you have any favorites from this year, let me know at the website or reach out over social media.
Today’s movie is “When Angels Sleep” (2018), the Netflix Original modern noir film written and directed by Gonzalo Bendala. The film follows Germán (Julián Villagrán), an insurance company executive who is travelling home while extremely fatigued. When he nods off on a country road, he strikes a young woman named Gloria (Asia Ortega), which is witnessed by her coked out friend Sílvia (Ester Expósito).
During the pre-code era in Hollywood, directors were fond of writing and directing movies that tantalized the adult audience, often with explicit reference to drugs, violence, and the darker side of humanity. In fact, it was this fascination with film that lead to the production code, which greatly sanitized the film industry, and leaving darker tales for the future rise of independent horror and action films, which would, of course, lead to the MPAA rating system after everyone realize the money to be made. And now, we’re experiencing another renaissance in noir film making, sometimes a throwback to days of yesteryear, sometimes a dark and gritty reboot of a previously sanitized intellectual property, and sometimes, like today’s film, a modern tale of good people driven to bad deeds. See what I did there?
“When Angels Sleep” (2018) is definitely a modern noir film, with Germán representing the upstanding, overworked and underappreciated father, whose job frequently requires (or at least bullies) him to work during important personal events. I actually identified with Germán at the beginning a lot, having worked as a traveling consultant, and later in an understaffed office, and having to give up more than one weekend for the sake of the job, and missing more than that from dealing with the stress. I also identified with him drifting off at the wheel, which I’ve done exactly once, and stopped driving immediately after realizing what happened. I’ve been close a few times as well, and for everyone listening, if you feel that happening, just stop, take a nap, do whatever you can to avoid what Germán faces. I may have identified with his character, but I certainly don’t approve of his escalating series of bad decisions that happens afterwards.
Everything leading up to the accident is really well done, but then everything afterwards begins to fall apart pretty quickly, not just for the characters in the story, but for the film overall. Sílvia is convinced that he’s a murderer, and Germán make a lot of bad decisions for someone who works within insurance, which even plays into the story later on. Bendala does an interesting job showing just how close all the events are to one another, with more than a few close calls that bordered on the unrealistic. The film boils down to Germán trying to track down Sílvia over a variety of country terrain and abandoned houses, and culminates in his realization that there’s only a few ways where he doesn’t go to prison, and a cringe-worthy climactic sequence that left me sick to my stomach. On the one hand, I can appreciate a story that shows just how far a good person has to be driven to perform bad deeds, but I also thought the religious messaging was completely lost by the ending, no matter how realistic it turns out to be.
“When Angels Sleep” (2018) is an extremely dark modern noir film, that takes a simple premise and escalates it into an emotionally and thematically conflicted film. Bendala’s ultra-realistic approach has some great camera work, but fails to have a meaning to make the horror worthwhile. Fans of films with few redeeming qualities in their characters may want to challenge themselves, but otherwise, I would suggest anyone not up for that to take a hard pass.
Rotten Tomatoes: NR
One Movie Punch: 5.4/10
“When Angels Sleep” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.