A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"We're No Angels" is a movie made for those faces, and one of the pleasures of watching the film is to see them looking sidelong at each other as they try to figure a way out of the complicated mess they're in. The movie has a lot of other good stuff to look at (including dramatic period locations in a small Canadian town) and to listen to (dialogue by David Mamet), but I can think of no other recent movie in which so much of the pleasure lies in watching the expressions on the faces of the actors - especially when they're reacting, not talking.
The movie is set in the 1930s and stars De Niro and Penn as a couple of convicts who are doing hard time in a prison that looks like it was hammered together out of Sing Sing, the Bastille and the underworld in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." This is a great, evil, venal prison, populated by vindictive killers and sadistic guards, and when De Niro and Penn escape from it, freedom is like a splash of cold air in their faces: They go tumbling down snowy slopes in a desolate forest wilderness, until they get a lift from an old lady and end up in a small border town.
Their objective: to cross the bridge that spans the river between the United States and Canada. Their problem: They have been mistaken for two priests and have been given shelter in the local monastery. Their solution: to go along with the gag and pretend to be priests, even though anyone in their right mind could plainly see they're fugitives from a 1930s prison movie.