Summer in the Bronx, 1993. Brendan (Jimi Stanton) is a troubled but hard-working high school drop-out with a manipulative mother and a brother on the verge of self-destruction. Eva (Princess Nokia) is a bright, young woman about to start college in the fall, but with the pressure to make her family proud clashing with her own secret hopes and dreams for the future. Sparks fly when the two meet, and their respective worlds collide. As the young couple’s relationship develops, their home lives and dreams for the future threaten to tear their new and fragile love apart.
Peter Andrew Lee’s Angelfish starts off a little bit rocky. We get jolted fairly quickly into a scene in which Brendan is shown working at a deli that he doesn’t really enjoy working at, but does so because he is in need of money and it is the only job that he can get at the moment. One day on a regular shift, a customer, Eva, walks in and starts to get catcalled by a man. Brendan sticks up for her, and he instantly develops quite the crush on Eva, and it seems as though she feels the same way about him, too.
This is perhaps the biggest issue with the film and one of the reasons why it took a little while to get into it. The whole movie revolves around their relationship and the tries and tribulations that they must go through in order to keep their relationship afloat. However, for a long time, it felt as though these two really weren’t meant for each other. After all, they just met at a deli and barely said more than a few words to one another.
Luckily though, the script that Lee wrote ultimately fleshed them out a lot more by the time the second act comes into play. From that point onward, the movie became not only much more entertaining and genuinely funny and sweet, but it became much more believable as to why these two liked each other.
One of the reasons why I eventually ended up caring for our two lead protagonists was due to the excellent performances that Jimi Stanton and Princess Nokia give. Together, they exude brilliant chemistry and have terrific screen presence. They genuinely felt as though they had known each other in real life for many years, and working on this film together was natural for them.
In addition to them, this is just a beautiful movie to look at as well. Director of photography Jamal Solomon presents a ton of lush scenery as well as run-down city roads in a brilliant manner. Everything stands out greatly to the point where I genuinely cannot recall a single bland-looking shot here.
As a whole, Lee has managed to craft a love story that, at first, seemed a bit jarring and a little unbelievable. Thankfully though, he turns it around fairly quickly into a genuinely compelling tale of two people falling in love and tells it in a sweet and charming way.
Angelfish has a rocky start but ultimately develops into a genuinely sweet and compassionate film with excellent performances from Jimi Stanton and Princess Nokia.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: N/A
Directed by: Peter Andrew Lee
Distributed by: Dark Star Pictures
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Running Time: 96 minutes