A 90 minute Mongolian American thriller, In The Land of Lost Angels is perhaps a type of movie one rarely hears about. It's shot in a language and about a part of the community that cinema has not said much about, however they do exist - Mongolians from Mongolia.
This crime thriller is set in a modern American city and shot in black and white only to emphasise the dark and dreary outlook. It actually, surprisingly works pretty well. Two friends and Mongolian immigrants to America resort to crime as their only option to save an ailing family member. They spread hope to their family by making up a story about a potential job offer, however, are shown planning a kidnapping and securing a weapon. The two men are strikingly similar in height and build and in some scenes, it is only the hoodie that creates a difference between them for the audience. It isn't till almost one third of the movie that one even knows the names of the 2 characters, Ankhaa and Orgil.
Although focused on the same goal, the two men have varying opinions on how best to get there and what choices they want to make. They argue on many things along the way, but manage to stay focused on the goal, sometimes just barely and only because time is running out. A lack of prudent planning and doubt makes one want to believe that plenty can go wrong with these amateurs and keeps the audience guessing when the big 'blip' will happen.
Although supported by only a basic screenplay and dialogues, the outcome is way more impactful than one would think. The dialogues are simple and you might come across some awkward pauses, but they can be easily forgiven in the light of the plot and the want to know what happens next.
The movie is shot mainly shot in Mongolian, except for the dialogues with Scott, the wealthy son of a rich American. The restrained acting, distant direction and intentionally being shot in black and white makes the movie unique and intriguing to watch.
There aren't many Mongolian movies released eah year and In the Land of Lost Angels is considered one of the first Mongolian American films, making it quite special. Watch director Bishrel Mashbat's crime thriller on Amazon Prime Video. Cast includes Iveel Mashbat, Erdenemunkh Tumursukh and Mike Cali. The movie has been part of many film festivals since it has been released including the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.