Angels Of Brooklyn

Camilla Hjelm & Martin Zandvliet.

Denmark 2002, 82 min.

Camilla Hjelm found her angels in a coffee bar. She took still photos of them, then sought them out to give them copies of her pictures. They became friends; the angels invited her home. In this film, she takes you with her. It’s a rambling, charming, hospitable and unpretentious journey.

Angels of Brooklyn delivers a stylish portrait of the lives of young black and Latino women living on welfare in the projects: single mothers, high school dropouts, ex-cons – if not always angelic, then gloriously human. What really makes this film work is the relationship developed by director/camerawoman Camilla Hjelm with her subjects. In the first sequence, Nicola remarks that people go and see a therapist just to have someone to talk to; Hjelm is not their therapist, she simply seems to be their friend – she lets the Angels talk, she lets us eavesdrop. Living in poverty, time is one thing these women have plenty of; the director responds by giving them her time and ours.

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