Angela: Synopsis

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ANGELA is the story of the secret spiritual lives of two children, Angela (10), and Ellie (6), and their journey through a strange, often comical, sometimes brutal world.

The story begins in Catskill, New York, a run-down town that most businesses and all industry have fled. The family -- Mae, a beautiful, glamorous, eccentrically dressed woman in her thirties; Andrew, an earthy ex-musician; and the girls, are loading all their possessions onto a rusty open trailer hitched to the back of their old car. As they drive down the neglected street, away from their peeling house, music swells: we expect a major transition. But the car drives about five houses and stops. They have arrived. And their new house, a battered brick Victorian, is in similar shape to the place they have just moved out of. These people are going no place fast.

Soon we learn that Mae, once a singer in a band with Andrew, had to leave her career because of an increasingly severe case of manic depression. The couple has formed a pact not to put Mae on Lithium; it kills her "spirit." And so the family is held captive by the increasingly dramatic mood swings that the sickness brings on. Angela's mother is either very, very sad or happy, vibrant, full of life.

In an effort to give the girls a regular, "bland," old-fashioned experience to counteract the unpredictability of their lives, Andrew, himself an atheist, starts taking the family to church. He has no idea how powerful the ideas embodied by Christianity will be to Angela, who becomes obsessed by the idea of sin. Vulnerable because her existence revolves solely around her mother and her moods, Angela comes to believe that the devil himself, in the form of the beautiful angel he was before the fall, lives in the house.

Angela convinces herself that the cleaner of sin she and her sister are, the happier her mother will be. To this end, she creates rituals whose goals are the inner purification of herself and her sister. Gradually, Angela moves further into the dangerous world of her own imagination.

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