Angel on My Shoulder

Cult actress Gwen Welles had a dazzling debut at 19 as the vulnerable aspiring country singer forced to strip for an unappreciative audience in Robert Altman's Nashville. In the years that followed, she led a glamorous life of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll but never fulfilled the promise of her debut. She became friends with director Donna Deitch and acted in her film Desert Hearts. When Welles was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer at 42, Deitch agreed to make a film about the end of her life. Welles is amazingly touching and inspirational as she unflinchingly examines her physical deterioration and reactions to her eventual death, though her vanity—she refuses a possibly life-saving colostomy operation because it might disfigure her—pop spirituality, and overwhelming narcissism make her annoying and exasperating. This movie should move anybody interested in the issues that surround love and friendship and the mystery and cruelty of death.

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