Going Through the Mobster Motions in Angel of Evil


The French bio-flick Mesrine, released stateside last year, took four hours and spanned two films in order to tell the tale of its real-life criminal antihero. The Italian film Angel of Evil, a 90-minute fictionalized account of the life and exploits of Italian mobster Renato Vallanzasca (played here by Kim Rossi Stuart), is in many ways reminiscent of Mesrine but suffers greatly in comparison. It hits many of the same marks—see the young Renato and his band of fledgling hooligans; see him meet-cute with his future tough-chick girlfriend; see him taunt a prison guard, leading to a brutal beating; see him start an underworld war of mobsters—but the scenes unfold almost elliptically, never really building or illuminating character, and never sparking narrative momentum. This happens, then that happens, then that happens. You can all but feel the checklist being marked off, and the viewer is never really drawn into the world or made to care what’s happening. The cast is game, and the one upside to the film is the palpable glee the actors and actresses, particularly Stuart in the lead role, feel playing dress-up. But just as the child who slips on a parent’s shoes and happily clip-clops around the house can soon become mildly annoying, so, too, does this Angel.