The Angel is a stylish and clever movie, fuelled enough by the constant foreshadowing of doom that the audience will remain committed until the resolution.
The Angel brings a unique interpretation of the life and actions of notoriously elusive and arguably vital Ashraf Marwan. Netflix allows us to see how Ashraf journeys to become Egypt’s most valuable asset, a fly on the wall, a celebrated individual in its ever-present fight for peace.
Ashraf Marwan, the son in law of the Egyptian president Gamal Nasser, begins his story in a place of youthful defiance. Desperate to cling to his younger days we see Ashraf take to the town in a bid to feed his vices. It’s not too long before his reputation and honour are under threat and desperation soon descends upon him. Ashraf has no choice but to take drastic measures to pull himself and his family from his dire situation.
The Angel is a stylish, slick retelling of a story that for years has only been the subject of question and the hobby of conspiracy theorists. Still, to this day, it is not confirmed what Ashraf did or didn’t do in the wake of his role as president Sudat’s right-hand man. The enigmatic mystery that shrouds Ashraf and the still-relevant confusion of his official duties will possibly never be revealed. The elusive details lead to an irresistible urge to watch The Angel in a desire to make some sense of the very little information available.
Acclaimed scriptwriter David Arata, well known for works including Children of Men and Spy Game, has constructed a narrative sure to entice spy and conspiracy enthusiasts alike. With remarkable subtlety and an intuitive pace, The Angel manages to weave a complete and utterly convincing order of scenarios to do Ashraf great justice in demonstrating his importance in Egyptian history. Furthermore, The Angel is sophisticated in thought and invites the audience to be privy to the private world of Egyptian politics.
The Angel excitingly explores the fine line between serving your country as a double spy and remaining incognito at the risk of treason. Showcasing moral dilemmas that could make or break a country, as Ashraf tries to find meaning and alibi in fighting between choices that could save millions and yet sacrifice his own government’s intentions.
Ashraf’s character arc is truly captivating; an underdog story audiences can sink their teeth into. Marwan Kenzari works harmoniously with director Ariel Vromen to bring an edgy innocence to Ashraf’s portrayal. Delivering a 60’s charm and a tragic weight of heavy responsibility, Kenzari brings Ashraf to life to convince audiences that although caught up in a world of chaos, he is in fact only human. Kenzari proved himself to be a perfect choice as we see him play on his character’s persistence to professionally kiss someone’s ***. We follow Ashraf as we see him rise to wealth and authority by ensuring he pleases the right people. Ashraf becomes a uniquely conflicting character that we begin to dislike whilst simultaneously wondering whether we would actually do the exact same as him in his position.
Moreover, it should be said The Angel is formidable in its depiction of the political playing field. Shining light on the immature tactics of politicians, especially in regards to treating war as a ridiculous game of bluff. Unfortunately, this is all too familiar and shockingly accurate to the politics we see every day. Again The Angel highlights the delicacies of political nature and the fragility of the personalities that gather to run a country. This leads The Angel to be a frustratingly intriguing watch as the audience will experience the same moral headaches as Ashraf in a will to be logical about illogical situations.
The Angel, although fascinating, can often fall victim to dreary exposition, sometimes important but more frequently excessive. Knowing the absolute ins and outs of political intentions, unfortunately, can lead to moments of zoning out as scenes of meeting rooms take centre stage for the most part of the first half. In all fairness, this is possibly the only complaint. The Angel is a slow burner but once it gains momentum it rarely slows in its turbulent journey to the movie’s climax.
Overall The Angel is a stylish and clever movie, and certainly a curious watch. Although tedious and often unnecessarily meticulous in places, The Angel is fuelled enough by the constant foreshadowing of doom that the audience will remain committed until the resolution. With Stellar performances and classy art direction, The Angel delivers a sophisticated and captivating story that comes highly recommended. It can certainly contend with the top dogs of espionage movies, holding it’s own as a thrilling and engaging few hours of entertainment.
Maggie has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Maggie gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.