While NOT ANGELS BUT ANGELS opts for reticence as it chronicles the nocturnal odysseys of teen hustlers in Prague, Czechoslovakia, one wishes that a little anger or choked-back sentiment had entered into the equation. A bit exploitative (at times the film seems to have been designed for a
Men & Boys travel agency), this documentary is an intriguing but pointlessly arty record of a troubling phenomenon: freelance sex jobs for adolescents after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It bubbles with enough dramatic juice to satisfy those who wish to slum through the lower depths.
In the wake of Russia's emancipation of her Eastern European satellite states, Western-style capitalism invaded the once repressed society of Prague. Now the playground of horny tourists, the Czech city breeds adolescent whores who bare their soul on camera as they justify their lifestyles. For
every bisexual like Radek who supports a family by servicing male tricks, there are dozens of young, parentally rejected homosexuals trading their bodies instead of flipping burgers at a Czech MacDonalds. Constitutionally unable to tolerate or be tolerated by their narrow-minded parents, runaways
like Robert, Miko, and Danek play Russian roulette with HIV to earn a living. The youths' monologues about sexual bartering are interrupted by the self-serving spiel of a pimp who haunts the popular train station like a Dolly Levi for older gay men. Once recruited into the life, these doleful male
streetwalkers often gamble away their savings at clubs that perpetuate the cycle of love for sale. Whether homosexual or bisexual, the film's subjects seem stunted emotionally by having used themselves as a business franchise in a career that wears out employability rapidly.
Fascinating as these case studies of young men servicing chicken hawks in Eastern Europe are, NOT ANGELS BUT ANGELS is particularly resonant in conveying the combination of economic necessity and low self-esteem that marks the hustler's predisposition for prostitution. The film's strongest suit is
how assiduously it highlights the premature adulthood that permeates the interviewees' demeanors. No matter how they boast of high wages or clinically discuss the pitfalls of fleshpeddling, all of the participants seem to share an unfamiliarity with joy. Less edifyingly, the film occasionally
seems to revel in its salacious subject matter, with porno still inserts and lingering shots of one youth as he bathes. While hardly a recruitment film for hustling, the film hasn't been fashioned with enough restraint. Its pretentious use of Angel iconography and celestial choirs is a real
liability. It takes more than classical music and cherubs to lend heavenly irony to an enterprise that straddles the worlds of concerned social scientist and gawking voyeur. By the end, we're not sure which point of view prevails; only the pain in the young men's eyes lingers in the memory.
(Extreme profanity, extensive nudity, substance abuse, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: While NOT ANGELS BUT ANGELS opts for reticence as it chronicles the nocturnal odysseys of teen hustlers in Prague, Czechoslovakia, one wishes that a little anger or choked-back sentiment had entered into the equation. A bit exploitative (at times the film… (more)