Saturday, July 14, 2007


I like Luc Besson movies. Leon and The Fifth Element are two of my favorite movies. When I learned that the Trolley Square (yes, that Trolley Square) was playing his most recent film (because is Arthur and the Minimoys really a film?) I decided I had to be there.

Angel-A is a story about a man who lies to everyone, but most of all to himself. It's shot beautifully in black and white (people don't make enough black and white films these days) and has a distinct look. Paris films well in black and white. It's equal parts "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Amelie".

The lead actor, Jamel Debbouze, is one of the great character actors of our time. He has such a wonderful screen presence and an interesting look and personality. Add to that the fact that he can act and you've got something in someone that doesn't happen often. Most of you will remember him as Lucien in Amelie. He was really good in that. In this, he plays a horrible, down-trodden scam artist and it suits him well.

The female lead, Rie Rasmussen, doesn't have much exposure here in the US and so I have no idea who she is if anyone at all. What I do know, however, is that she is the quintessential Besson girl. She has the same haircut and make-up around the eyes that most female heroes (Nikita, Leeloo, Mathilde, etc....) in Besson pictures have. She's just much taller and more blonde than the others. She's cute and does her job well.

But with all of that going for it, the film is only just "okay." It wasn't a masterpiece, it didn't blow me away. It was a much more personal film than the Besson I'm used to. That wasn't the problem, though.

The problem was that the script was at like 60 or 70%. There were moments in the script that were fantastic, the scene with the mirror, for instance, where Angela forces Andre to recognize the concept of love was amazing. It was preposterously well shot (within one take it would seem) and the acting was the best in the movie. But other moments just felt like they were missing something.

Particularly the climax.

This might be considered spoiler territory, so avoid the next paragraph if you plan on seeing the movie.

Okay. So, the climax. The first act of the film ends when Angela confesses that she is an angel from heaven come down to show Andre how to be a good person, the beautiful "sexy bitch" he is on the inside. This is fine, it's not hard to suspend your disbelief, even though she's doing very un-angel like things (smoking, drinking, prostitution, etc.) But we are expected to believe that Andre and Angela fall in love, and I buy that. But then when she's completed her mission and spreads her wings to fly home and leave Andre alone on Earth, he clings to her. The sequence came off as cheesy instead of dramatic and I felt like it betrayed the tone of the rest of the film.

Overall, I thought this film was well-shot and entertaining. It's worth watching once, perhaps, if you're in the mood for a black and white French film or just to see Jamel Debbouze kick some ass acting. I'm also not sure why this film has been done for two years and is just now seeing an American theatrical release. This is better than, 70% of the crap they release in the theatres, why not make with the good films.

Multiplexes should dedicate at least one screen at all times to indie films, foreign films and art films. When everything else sells out, the stupid people will buy tickets to them. But the smart people would buy them first. What I'm saying is that they would be more popular if they were more available to people....


Anonymous said...

EW. I hated Angel-A. HATED it. I walked out of the theatre after 40 minutes of pure torture.
I agree with you about how multiplexes should have a screen for foreign films and indies. You Americans have so much to learn from us, foreigners...

... said...

I have no idea what the fuck this movie is.

Stenar said...

I loved Angel-A when I saw it at Sundance. I thought it was a wonderful film.

It was driving me nuts, however, when you kept referring to Besson as Beeson. ;)

Unknown said...

I've seen Angele on DVD & I think it was BEAUTIFUL! I've seen it for 4 times tiil now. I love every dialoge in the fim.