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Angel On The Right review

Filming in his native village in Tajikistan and using his own relatives in key roles, writer/director Djamshed Usmonov has fashioned an unsentimental prodigal-son drama. It's clever too, blending ancient myths (the angel of the title) with the modern reality of life in a central Asian backwater.

Tough-guy Hamro (Maruf Pulodzoda) returns after a decade in Moscow to visit his dying mother (Uktamoi Miyasarova) in the Tajik countryside. The old lady's illness is a ruse, however, designed to allow the corrupt mayor (Mardonqul Qulbobo) and other locals to recover Hamro's long-standing debts. To muddy matters further, Hamro also discovers he's expected to take full responsibility for his illegitimate 10-year-old child.

Usmonov may try to juggle too many storylines, but his film still succeeds as an astute portrait of an impoverished, male-dominated society. What's more, the motivations and actions of Hamro retain a pleasing sense of mystery, all the way to the final shot.

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