This, the second feature by Dana Rotberg one of Mexico's most exciting new filmmakers, is a rare and intense cinematic allegory with its magic-realist treatment of themes such as incest, religious fanaticism and sexual repression. Built around passions and obsessions of Bunuelian or Felliniesque proportions, Angel of Fire tells the story of 13-year-old Alma, a young trapeze artist and fire-eater working amidst the creaking splendours of the decaying Fantasia circus. Along with her ailing clown father, with whom she shares a trailer and sometimes a bed. Alma's world is peopled with outcasts surviving on the fringe of Mexican society. She herself is expelled from this world when she falls pregnant and her father dies. Abandoned, she wanders the streets eventually joining an evangelist and her son who travel the country preaching fiery Old Testament morality tales through their puppet theatre performances.
Beautifully assured in its economical, elliptical storytelling, Rotberg's detailed odyssey through rejection and embrace, sin and redemption illuminates its macabre subject matter, allowing us to glimpse the humanity at work within the vagaries of life.