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France 2005
Directed by
Luc Besson
90 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Luc Besson's Angel-A could be justly described as his take on Frank Capra’s It's A Wonderful Life, or perhaps Wim Wenders’ Wings Of Desire melded with seemingly deathless French cinema fantasy of a dishevelled loser who proves inexplicably attractive to some stunningly beautiful woman in a little black dress.

Jamel Debbouzel (a stand-up comedian by trade), plays André, a height-challenged, dishevelled loser hopelessly in debt to various hoodlums and about to commit suicide whose life is turned around by a beautiful, leggy angel (Rie Rasmussen) in a very little black dress, the two undergoing various adventures together and eventually falling in love.  End of story.

Whilst the clear intention is to present an allegory of the ever self-doubting human spirit finding its true spiritual path, Besson's ineluctable tendency to favour style over substance undermines any emotional credibility or character development. Thus, whilst the film in its middle stage does strike some worthwhile territory as André essays the inward journey to the self, the film's competing aspiration to be cultishly cool means that it is never willing to forgo its hiply slick surface. With striking black and white photography by Thierry Arbogast Angel-A always looks good with Besson showcasing a touristic Paris, pellucidly shot in the early hours of the morning, and Rasmussen is a hypnotically beautiful presence. The outcome is visually seductive enough to distract from the lightweightness, even silliness, of the wishfully romantic premise.

DVD Extras: Making-of-the-film and Making-of-the music-video featurettes; the music video and theatrical trailer.

Available from: Madman




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