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André, a small-time ex-convict, seems to owe money to everyone in Paris, including a crime boss who promises to kill him if he doesn't repay him by midnight. After failing to find protection from the American embassy and the French police, a despairing André scrambles onto a bridge over the Seine, intending to leap to his death. He is surprised to see a tall, beautiful girl clinging to a rail on the same bridge, apparently preparing to end her life as well. She jumps, and he jumps too, suddenly resolving to save her life. After scrambling ashore, she tells him her name is Angel-A. Together, they take a cruise on the Seine, repay André's creditors, visit a Parisian nightspot, and more, as Angel-A helps André. He learns that for this purpose she has fallen out of the sky and into his life. André finds himself falling in love with this mysterious beauty. Written by
A movie about ethics, i.e. about how to be better human beings.
Angel-a can be described as a romantic comedy, as a movie about angels and as one about therapy. As a romantic comedy it is a good and charming film, which stands far away from the omnipresent and boring Hollywood romantic comedies. As a movie about angels it is not convincing, and the best it can be said in its favour is that the movie is an heterodox rendering of angels, half divine and half too-human.
But the best use that can be given to this film is to adopt it as a manual of cognitive or rational-emotive therapy. A well respected field within psychology, cognitive therapy looks for transforming distorted thinking, which it is said, affects the mood, the behaviour and the life of people. That is simply what Angel-a does with Andre, giving him reasons to love himself, and teaching him techniques to change the way he thinks or speaks of himself. If we go to cinema some times to enjoy ourselves and some times to bring something to our lives, this movie allows us to do both. Art and cinema have also ethical consequences -in the sense of Foucault- giving us clues about how to live our lives better. In this sense the best description of Angel-a is given above by Elizabeth Arthur when she says that this is "a film about learning to love yourself".
Only one question remains: Why a director like Besson, who has been making movies about violence, decides to read about cognitive therapy and bring angels to earth and make a film like this?
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