Movie Review: Angel-A

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Angel-A is Luc Bessonís latest feature finally here in the US, but itís a film from 2005 and it did not get great reviews from the French. So now that we have it, I have to agree with them. With so much space since Jeanne díArc,made six years ago, the new film was eagerly anticipated. Still Jeanne díArc did not do very well. Milla Jovavichís over animated acting, Besson's wife at the time, was a big reason why the critics didnít like it. Why Angel-A would succeed is because of the tourist footage of Paris and for many Americans going to Paris has been called a dream come true. The black and white stock is luminescent not like Citizen Kane, but the cinematography has merit revealing palatial interiors with ornate and geometric shapes artfully arranged. There is the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, the Seine and the usual tourist spots. Bessonís cinematographer Thierry Arbogast got up before the people, at about 4am so there are no people. July and August is about the time when the French take their vacations. But there are still lots of tourists. This is no Paris anyone sees save at the crack of dawn, and itís also pretty clean, so the artifacts of everyday life are missing. Jean Pierre Jeunet digitally removed all the people and garbage too in Amťlie to present a pristine and picturesque Paris. Its not that Paris isnít beautiful with all its life missing, but Besson claims he presents a Paris no one sees. No one sees it because it really doesnít exist.
The film otherwise rests on two actors and the story.
The Danish American Rie Rasmussen plays AngelA. She is a tall angular model of an actress, an unknown as Besson calls her, that could use a few sandwiches. In the beginning of the film she is jumping off one of the bridges lining the Seine. This is neither the Golden Gate nor a long drop. A short con artist Andrť played by Jamel Debbouze has the same idea. He rescues ďAngel AĒ and then she rescues him, helping him during the course of the film to acquire a better image, repay his debts and as expected he falls in love with her. She is no ordinary girl, she is an Angel and she uses her talents to help get rid of the bad guys. This includes using her earthly female charm and during most of the film it would appear that she is a femme fatale that knows how to work a room. In real life she is a director and artist and I hope she gets to develop on her own accord rather then playing these recycled tropes. We anticipate the ending, we know whatís going to happen even before it does. And even when it does Besson still could have made it better. The film is slickly constructed with a hip soundtrack and art direction, but its empty, a glowing travelogue for a beautiful city and two maudlin characters that are predictable and two dimensional. I love Paris too but would rather see its reality than black and white picture postcards and listen to affected dialogue any day.

More Information:
France - 2005