There’s a fascinating scene in Luis Ortega’s crime drama, “El Angel,” where charismatic newcomer Lorenzo Ferro pulls back his luxuriously long, curly blonde locks to fasten a pair of high-priced earrings he and his character’s partner in crime, Ramon, are about to pinch from a Buenos Aires jewelry store. The abettor quips, “You look like Marilyn Monroe.” And you know what? He’s right. But on the inside, the androgynous crook’s resemblance is closer to Charles Manson.

Beauty — and the Beast — all packaged into one deranged teenager with an itch to break and enter and an even itchier trigger finger. When Argentine authorities ended Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch’s 11-month crime spree in 1972, the kid the press deservedly dubbed “The Black Angel” was charged with 11 counts of murder, 17 counts of grand larceny and single counts of rape, attempted rape and attempted murder. His countrymen asked: “How could such a sweet-looking boy from a good home be so evil?” How, indeed.

“El Angel” doesn’t really try to answer that. Ortega and his two co-writers, Rodolfo Palacios and Sergio Olguin, are only interested in reinventing Robledo Puch as a closeted gay kid who left his empathy back in his mother’s womb. He also didn’t kill people by accident, as suggested here. He was cold-blooded and ruthless, counting among his victims an infant and two young women he raped and murdered. It says a lot about Ortega’s intent that those crimes have been conveniently omitted from the screenplay. It’s the old saw about not letting facts get in the way of a good story about a pretty-boy outlaw.

The result is a movie that’s significantly more fantastical than true, making you wish Ortega had followed Terrence Malick’s blueprint for “Badlands,” justifying artistic license by simply disguising the names of the actual criminals and labeling it “inspired by.” And why does Robledo Puch have to be gay — or possibly bisexual — when the real guy was likely neither? So Ortega can have an excuse to shoot close-ups of the testicles the boy can’t stop staring at when he meets Ramon’s well-endowed father?

I’m probably just nitpicking, but it detracts from the movie’s power. Still, Ferro’s superb performance makes it a highly worthwhile ride. Just don’t take it seriously. Take it as it is: A slice of LGBTQ cinema combining eroticism with outrageous explosions of machismo. It’s a blend that’s like smack in the veins for producers Pedro and Augustin Almodovar, Spaniard siblings who’ve played a major role in the emergence of Argentina as a bastion for challenging, innovative pictures like “Wild Tales” and “The Clan.”

“El Angel” just might be the best of the bunch, just because it daringly asks you to place stock in a psychotic murderer whose only redeeming quality is his angelic face and soft, pillowy lips. I’m not sure what it says about us that Robledo Puch’s handsomeness allows us to mitigate his revolting actions. That’s Ortega’s point, I guess, but he’s not playing fair by omitting the kid’s more heinous crimes. Ortega fares better in his exploration of the bizarre friendship between Robledo Puch and Ramon (the name the film gives to real accomplice Jorge Ibanez). They meet cute when the former holds a lit blowtorch to the other boy’s head during shop class.

Things only get hotter once Ramon (Chino Darin) introduces Robledo Puch to his small-time-criminal dad, Jose (Daniel Fanego). Soon, the trio is loading up on stolen art, guns and jewelry. But for Robledo, it’s not the loot that matters, it’s the thrill of invading spaces that are not his own. In fact, he gives away much of what he takes. And what he does keep, like his new motorcycle, he tells his fretting mother, Aurora (Almodovar favorite, Cecilia Roth), that it was loaned to him by a friend.

It’s astonishing what the kid gets away with relying only on his looks and a smooth tongue that comes in handy when talking his way out of jams. The epitome of the success he and Ramon achieve is their scoring of beautiful twins (Malena Villa in a dual role) for muy caliente girlfriends. But the suggestion is Robledo Puch only has eyes for the very handsome Ramon, who has his own sexual proclivities he’s willing to indulge in pursuit of his dream of becoming a TV star. Ortega does an excellent job of building the sexual tension between the two without ever allowing them to get busy. But to what end?

Ultimately, the movie wraps where it began, with Robledo Puch dancing carefree inside a home he doesn’t belong, enjoying the thrill of, as he says, being alive and caring nothing about the consequences of who he is and what he does. In other words, the warped actions of a sociopath whose reality exists exclusively inside his pretty little head.

— Al Alexander may be reached at alexandercritica@aol.com.

“El Angel”

Cast includes Lorenzo Ferro, Chino Darin, Cecilia Roth, Daniel Fanego, Malena Villa and Mercedes Moran. (In Spanish with English subtitles)

(Not rated.)

Grade: B