My Little Angel | Chicago Reader

My Little Angel

This pseudonaive musical-cum-religious allegory from Puerto Rico offers magic realism with a religious twist. Directed by Enrique Pineda Barnet, it's a family film merrily delivering a story that alternately charms and cloys, borrowing unashamedly from It's a Wonderful Life, Annie, The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess. Maria de las Estrellas (“Maria of the Stars”) is an apprentice angel who comes down to earth because heaven has lost God. The buoyant but wingless waif escapes from an evil orphanage, gets adopted by a sad rich man (another Daddy Warbucks) and his childless wife, and shares her happiness with two abandoned children and a former gang member. By the end, the little miracle worker has met God—a gardener—and forsaken her dreams of earning her wings in order to become a real girl. Daniela Lugan, singing up a small storm, plays Maria with a gusto that, if not contagious, can certainly be irritating. The others act so broadly you'd think they were playing to a distant balcony rather than a nearby camera. But if you can overlook the pushy sound track and feel-good theatrics and if you already subscribe to the miracles-are-everywhere mentality, the hypoglycemia produced by this film may not prove fatal.

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