In The Land Of Lost Angels (2019)

In The Land Of Lost Angels
Director: Bishrel Mashbat
Writer: Bishrel Mashbat
Cast: Erdenemunkh Tumursukh, Iveel Mashbat, Mike Cali, Robert Corsini, Saint Ranson, Sam Bayaraa, Uyanga Mashbat
Seen on: 26.4.2021
[Screener review.]

Ankhaa (Erdenemunkh Tumursukh) lives in LA, but his family is still in Mongolia, and in some trouble. They need money, and Ankhaa, having made it to the USA where he says he just got a big job feels responsible to deliver it. But fact is, he doesn’t have a good job. He doesn’t have any money. So he and his best friend Orgil (Iveel Mashbat) have come up with a plan, even if that plan isn’t legal.

In the Land of Lost Angels is a beautifully shot and well-acted film that hasn’t quite gotten its rhythm right. But it’s definitely a very promising debut.

The film poster showing a black and white shot of a man looking at some palm trees.

The story In the Land of Lost Angels tells isn’t exactly a new story, but that’s not that important because its themes still resonate: the friendship between Ankhaa and Orgil. The desperation at the dissolution of the “American Dream” or maybe the “Immigration Dream” of doing better in the new country, of being able to support the family. The disbelief and also envy at the richness of (white) people who have a cushy existence but are unwilling to share.

The film’s bigger problem is not so much that the story isn’t all that fresh (though the setting within the Mongolian immigrant community certainly is), but rather that the pacing isn’t quite right. At times the film moves too slowly, then things happen very fast. I was missing a good rhythm to the storytelling.

Ankhaa (Erdenemunkh Tumursukh) and Orgil (Iveel Mashbat) looking into a trunk.

That is more than outweighed, though, by the fantastic performances by both Tumursukh and Mashbat, especially the former. His quiet presence was a mixture of desperation and hope that I found really captivating (and, on a completely different note, that dude has thighs for days, hot damn).

But probably the the film’s strongest part was its cinematography. There is usually a tinge of “trying too hard” in films that are shot in black and white now, but I found it very fitting here: it mirrors the lack of options that Ankhaa and Orgil face. They often use creative camera angles that make the film feel a little experimental and not as polished. This also offsets the conservativeness of the black and white images.

Overall, I found the film very engaging, especially for a debut. It wouldn’t have hurt if they had found more than one woman in the entirety of LA, but I’ll let it slide this time. The film has other strengths.

Scott (Mike Cali) lying tied up in a bathtub.

Summarizing: absolutely worth watching.

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