Opus of an Angel Review
Opus of an Angel is a drama about a suicidal man who finds a blind girl lost and wandering the streets of LA, torn between getting her home safely and keeping his appointment with death.
What is the value of one’s life? Is it contribution, personal growth, family, accumulation of wealth and possessions? These are questions the movies have posed to many characters who face a certain crisis, where the choice to end it all seems a better option than not. With Ali Zamani‘s latest drama Opus of an Angel, we travel once again with a man on the edge of a disturbing choice, a film that ponders the existential with a walk through LA, challenging us to think about our own personal journey.
In a sparse and almost clinically sterile home, Doctor Stephen Murphy (William McNamara) gloomily heads for the front door, stopping to acknowledge the tied noose rigged and ready for use in the kitchen. He then exits with only an agenda in his pocket, a list marked by time of the things he wants to accomplish for the day, including eating at a certain diner, withdrawing all his savings from the bank, and many others. The last stop is the kitchen, and a date with his own death. Problem is, on a deliberate stroll through the City of Angels, he comes upon a thirteen-year-old girl named Maria (Kaylynn Kubeldis), hit by a car and left on the street. She’s okay, but is separated from her classmates on a field trip. She’s also blind. Taken by her plight, Stephen allows her to follow him on his walk, hoping to get her to her teacher along the way. But will her inspirational look on life have him take another route?
The answer to most of what is going is right there in the title and Zamani doesn’t really hide the fact that Maria is a pretty special girl. Her impact on Stephen is initially slow, but it’s not long before her infectious attitude takes hold and he adopts a kind of guardianship of her while he searches for the others. And likewise, she does so for him. Naturally, by now, you’ve guessed that Opus of an Angel isn’t shying away from its faithful themes, something it revisits often, with a trip to a nun (Cindy Pickett) and a dark figure seemingly stalking him. It’s not aggressively preachy, despite the obviousness of its story, but clearly has a worthwhile and universal message.
Kubeldis makes her debut here, an actual blind girl who is undeniably affecting. She has a kind of spontaneity about her that truly feels natural, a terrific little foil for Stephen. He’s a troubled fellow, a man haunted by a tragedy a year earlier that he’s not been able to overcome. He hopes to change that by revisiting landmarks of his past. Zamani takes an interesting approach in telling some of that past, painting the screen black with only audio clips of his memories to guide us, that is until the last ones, which finally reveal everything we’ve heard and the reason for his feelings of loss.
Opus of an Angel is a small film with a limited budget, quite obviously a project of great personal passion. Admittedly, it is sometimes stiff, and the pacing at times weakens the momentum, but there are equally good moments as well that find their mark. A touching moment in a cinema showing a classic Buster Keaton movie is a highlight, as are a few others late in the film when Stephen faces his demons. I really appreciate what Zamani is doing, and surely, it’s easy to get behind and be moved by the outcome. A high quality family film with a message of hope, it’s well worth a look.
Opus of an Angel is currently on the film festival circuit and is expected to be released later this year.
Opus of an Angel Review
Movie description: Opus of an Angel is a drama about a suicidal man who finds a blind girl lost and wandering the streets of LA, torn between getting her home safely and keeping his appointment with death
Director(s): Ali Zamani
Actor(s): William McNamara, Cindy Pickett, Jamison Newlander