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|Index||85 reviews in total|
A beautiful, breathtakingly shot movie with a touching storyline. Besson often talks about his feminine side, and he is in full touch with it here. Those expecting another Nikita with lots of guns and car chases should look elsewhere. I'm sure they will find at least 10 other movies like that now in the multiplex, but nothing like this. Serious Besson fans will not be disappointed. Besson has filmed a Paris that is at the same time both beautiful and real. We see the beauty of Notre Dame, Parisian cafés, the city's bridges, but we also see its ugliness and the difficulty faced by those who do not fit the stereotype of what it means to be French. Anyone who has ever felt like a stranger in their own home will find a kindred spirit in Andre. It is a struggle to fit into a culture and a struggle to value one's self as a part of it.
The last time Luc Besson directed a movie, was back in 1999. The last
six years he occupied himself with his production-company EuropaCorp
and by writing a lot of screenplays. Now he's back with his 9th feature
film, ANGEL-A. This time no gunfights, car-chases or explosions. Nope,
this time the man brings us, of all things, a romantic comedy. The
movie is completely shot in Paris and seems to be one of the most
secret projects of French cinema. Honestly, I can't see why, except
maybe for a nice plot-twist which is presented to us halfway through
the movie and not, as usual, near the end.
The plot (don't worry, no spoilers): André is a regular swindler. He lies and cheats all the time and owes money to almost every criminal in Paris. After being beaten and threatened for the umpteenth time, he decides to kill himself by jumping off a bridge. On the verge of committing this act of despair, while standing on a bridge, he looks to the left and sees a girl about to do the same thing. When she jumps, he jumps after her and saves her from drowning. She's so thankful that she offers to do anything he wants while constantly remaining at his side. Suprisedly, she turns out to be a real life-saver by finding a lot of dubious ways to earn money and pay off André's debts. After a while André wants to know why she's doing all these things for him and is curious about her past...
Jamel Debbouze (you might know him as the slightly retarded grocer's assistant in LE FABULEUX DESTIN D'AMÉLIE POULAIN) is particularly good as the nervous André. The Dannish Rie Rasmussen, a sexy blond goddess with legs that go all the way, takes a little more time to convince as Angela. However, there is a certain chemistry between the two of them. The other characters are merely caricatured portraits of criminals and gangsters.
The story is rather straightforward and relies a lot on funny situations and dialogues. A lot of talking is being done and I must say most of the lines are well-written. Near the end of the movie, unfortunately, Luc Besson goes way over-the-top, making the movie lose a lot of credibility. But then again, it just might be possible that the end could be interpreted in two different ways. And that makes me suspect that Besson likes to play it safe by trying to please as many viewers as possible.
Anyway, a very important reason to watch this movie is the atmospheric black & white-photography by cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, who also worked on Besson's previous films. Paris, during autumn, is beautifully transferred to the screen with well-balanced lighting. The movie also has some impressive shots of 'la Tour Eiffel', a cathedral in 'le XVe arrondissement' and the many bridges to be found in Paris.
Most likely ANGEL-A will have as many defenders as adversaries, not necessarily to be divided in Besson-fans and not-fans respectively. But both parties will have to admit Besson had the guts to try something different. So let the box-office decide whether this genre-effort is successful or not.
It is very unlike other films, Luk Besson is related with, very few action, lots of dialogs. Not one of the kind you'll enjoy in breaks between portions of popcorn. This movie really touched me with it's honesty. It made me understand little bit more about myself, about the way i treat other people. Not everyone will like it. If you are looking for Taxi-style action - here you won't find anything alike. It's all b&w, and very bright at the same time, 40s style footage. It is about nature of human being, about those weak and strong, about good and evil. It teaches how to love yourself, but without being egoistic. Ant maybe the best thing is, it doesn't only rise a question, but it tries to answer it within the same hour and a half - unlike many movies of this kind (hollywood influence ;)
This film made me shed a tear or two (but then I am an emotional soul!). The comedic aspects, such as the total physical difference between the leads and the strength of the Angela were well placed. The reason for Angela coming into the life of Andre and her true identity could have been very tactlessly handled and cheesy in a Disney kind of way, but Besson made it seem as natural as catching a bus. Subtitles normally irritate me, but I didn't seem to notice them in this film. Paris in black and white is also very evocative and the filming was great in my opinion. I would recommend this film to anyone who fancies a fairly short film that makes you think about whether you appreciate your inner beauty and qualities.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Shot in striking black and white with Paris as its backdrop Luc Besson's first time behind the camera for seven years doesn't disappoint. With two brilliant central performances from Jamal Debbouze as André and Rie Rasmussen as Angela this is a Romeo and Juliet love story with a central theme about loving life that is better than Prozac. With some nifty little camera tricks and a quirky script it takes you on a journey of all the major landmarks of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Sacré Curé and plenty of seemingly deserted streets. Like a hybrid of Amelie, Wings of Desire and It's a Wonderful Life it is so moving in places I was nearly reduced to tears. Every second that Angela is on screen she is so beautiful and captivating that I practically saw her in colour and with André making up the odd couple they are a pleasure to watch. Stylish without being over-sentimental Angel-a is an age-old love story but told in a new and interesting way.
This film by Luc Besson, has almost.."everything"!!! The director,makes
a story about two people-man and woman-who look so different from each
other, just as black and white. She comes from the sky, while he comes
from "human's hell", since he's being chased for money he owed, and has
nowhere to go. As the movie goes on, the two of them will get closer to
each other, just to find out that they were getting closer
to...themselves! The film itself is in black and white, so that it
allows you to see the contradiction between the two heroes, but in the
same time it gives you a sense of mystery-something that it would never
happen with a colored film. Though it is a film about love, it shows
its real meaning, in a truly artistic way, just as a work of art would
speak..In addition, as a film, you can not really categorize it, just
as you can not do so for a work of art.It makes you laugh so many
times, has moments of pain, moments you feel like crying, some action,
in a few words:
It has everything life is made of. The director seems to me as if he knew exactly what he wanted, and made a wonderful movie about anyone who is still human, and therefore is able to love-himself first-another person.
Besson's intention by directing this movie was good. There is, it seemed to me, a big effort to make his film deep considering the discourse. It can be perceptible through the plenty of plays with symbols that are contained in it. The main problem is that by writing such dialogs, certain scenes seem too artificial and often too long. This has to be added to the fact that if you see the film in french, you"ll quickly notice that the dialogs that often concern both J Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen are more than sometimes incomprehensible and require a permanent attention to decipher them. Rie Rasmussen, even if she's quite a wonderful creature on a physical aspect, is however an average actress and the scenes that deal with emotions are spoiled -this is rather surprising considering Besson's job on The Professional- by a clumsy actor's direction. However cinematography by Thierry Arbogast is astounding and foreigners will find a wonderful black and white postcard of Paris as they'll see the movie. It is also regrettable that Besson didn't appeal to Eric Serra for the soundtrack. For Besson's defense, it must be said, I think, that his staff and himself have worked in such constraining circumstances to shot in Paris that the number of shots was counted and couldn't allow actors to give their full potential. This is the first time also that a director has full access to production and budget resources by himself so he can write a screenplay that does not have to be selected by instances like CNC allowing himself to direct a personal but too poorly "collaborative" project. Anyway, this is a film that has definitely to be seen.
I must admit, I was worried. The first directorial effort by Luc Besson
after 6 years, and Besson having produced (and written) movies in
between that can IMHO be only described as crap. No need to worry
however: Angel-A is simply a delightful film. Expertly framed by
Thierry Arbogast it presents a very simply story in a genuinely funny
and original way. Both Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen are perfectly
cast and seem to be having a lot of fun playing their respective parts.
While one could say that the general setup of the picture is hardly
new, it really doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the film or the
underlying story. The film doesn't present many twists and turns, the
ending can be foreseen about halfway through the film. The joy of
getting there however makes up for any of the afore mentioned problems.
Now, please Monsieur Besson: Don't make us wait 6 years for the next live-action picture!
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?
I'm not a fan of the french cinema, but I liked the movie. I liked all
the strange ideas of Luc Besson - there are no car-chases, no
explosions, just a romantic drama.
The scenario, the cast, the play of the actors (the role of the nervous Andre is hard to be played, but Jamel Debbouze is a great choice, just like Rie Rasmussen with her infinite legs)...
It was too interesting for me that the film was shot early the morning, when the streets are empty and Angel-A and Andre are all alone in the beautiful black-and-white Paris (and world). If you don't like the movie, you can just relax and take an almost real voyage in Paris.
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