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Sort of like a French take on WINGS OF DESIRE
MartinHafer21 September 2018
One of my favorite German films is WINGS OF DESIRE. It's a very odd black & white movie where the stars are angels...invisible to the people around them and also longing to know what it's like to be human. "Angel-A" is a black & white French film that seems to have been heavily influenced by WINGS OF DESIRE and both would make a wonderful double-feature.

André (Jamel Debbouze) is standing on the ledge of a bridge in Paris...contemplating killing himself because he owes so many people money...and these sorts of people are NOT the sort to call bill collectors. If he's lucky, they'll just break his legs...and suicide seems like his only way out. However, just as he's about to jump, he sees a woman jumping as well! He dives into the river to save her and the film revolves around him and his new companion, Angel-A (Rie Rasmussen).

Angel-A is a lovely looking lady but she also appears to be a prostitute. Now, instead of wanting to kill herself, she only wants to please him. And, her actions do NOT appear to be the actions of an angel...which she later claims to be. Her mission, apparently, is to help André ...but how?! And, when he realizes that Angel-A is the only one who ever cared for him, how does André react...especially when she's going to leave when her mission is complete.

This is a very difficult movie to really explain...suffice to say that apart from some similarities to WINGS OF DESIRE and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, it's still a highly original film. I should mention that there is a lot of sexuality and crude scenes which would not make this an ideal film to show the little kids nor Father Flannigan if he's visiting. Well worth your time and very expertly crafted by Luc Besson.
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don't like him
SnoopyStyle9 September 2021
André Moussah is a 28 year old single American immigrant working and scheming around the world. He's in Paris and it's not going well especially with thugs beating him up. He owes a lot of money to a dangerous loan shark. He has run out of options. He is about to jump off a bridge when a tall blonde supermodel jumps ahead of him.

Luc Besson obviously thinks the visual of a gigantic Rie Rasmussen towering over Jamel Debbouze is the funniest thing in the world. It's a little funny but the movie needs to do more than that. These two characters need to be a great duo, a fun duo, and a heart-warming duo. I'm not sure that prostitution is a good way to start. I don't really like Andre. He's already a pathetic character. His moral hang-up gets rather tiresome unless he can explain it. He's not only a constant liar but he's also idiotic. The blonde is at least trying to be fun. I really wish the quest is for something more compelling and less mundane than money. It should be a scheme he's trying to pull off. The olive oil idea could have worked. Maybe his shipment is stuck in customs and he has to do a series of crazy tasks to get it out. I just don't find him fun. In fact, he's very infuriating. That is if I actually cared about his character. He's not nice and he's tiresome. Finally, I hate what he does in the ending. It's rather selfish and unromantic.
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Weird and Implausible Fairytale
claudio_carvalho28 January 2010
In Paris, the twenty-eight year-old small-time crook André Moussah (James Debbouze) owes a large amount to powerful bosses of the Parisian underworld and he needs to pay until the next day. His legitimate business with olive oil from Argentina has never succeeded to pay the loans. He seeks protection in the American Consulate and in the French police and finally in despair, he decides to commit suicide jumping from a bridge in the Seine. In the same moment, he sees a beautiful tall woman ready to jump in the water from the same bridge. He jumps in the water and saves her life, and she introduces herself as Angela (Rie Rasmussen). They spend the rest of the day and the night together and she provides enough money to him to pay his creditors. Then she confesses that she is a fallen angel assigned to help him to retrieve his self-esteem since he is a good person inside. Sooner André falls in love for her, but Angel-A will retrieve her wings in the end of her journey.

"Angel-A" is a weird fairytale with a magnificent cinematography in black-and-white in the landscapes of the wonderful Paris. The very beautiful unknown Danish actress Rie Rasmussen performs the role of a fallen angel assigned to help a man that does not know that he is good like Henry Travers does in "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart's character George Bailey. But on the contrary of Frank Capra's masterpiece, the man to be saved, André Moussah, is a short low-life non-likable worthless character and has nothing to do with the tall blonde Angel-A; therefore their romance is absolutely ridiculous, implausible and never works. Further, the way Angel-A resolves their money problem is silly and dull. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Angel-A"
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Jimi Hendrix's song comes to the screen
lee_eisenberg22 December 2007
Ever since Luc Besson directed "The Fifth Element", it was probably hard to imagine him directing a movie like the mystifying "Angel-A". But he did, and the movie impressed me. One might interpret it as the same idea as Jimi Hendrix's song in which an angel - whether real or metaphorical - saves a person's existence. Certainly how Angela helps Andre fix up his life in a world that seemingly rejected him, that's a matter of interpretation. But I also detect an allusion to France's treatment of the North Africans (but that's just conjecture, so don't quote me).

But overall, I think that Luc Besson is offering hope amidst the turmoil that has engulfed the world. It's a little bit like "Pan's Labyrinth" in that sense. So I recommend it.
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Just simply a marvelous, inventive film in black and white, filmed in Paris.
TxMike3 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I have become a fan of the movies of Luc Besson, "The Professional" and "Nikita" are two of my favorites. I was somewhat hopeful going into viewing "Angel-A", but I was unprepared for what a superb film this is. All of his films are different, but they share one thing, very inventive stories, very inventive dialog, and interesting camera angles.

This is a "must see" for anyone who appreciates a good movie.

Jamel Debbouze (of Amelie fame) is André Moussah, always in a coat, and always with his damaged right hand tucked into the pocket. He doesn't have a good life, he has trouble telling the truth, he gets arrested for petty crimes here and there, and presently owes impatient men quite a sum of money. With time and options running out, even the jailer refusing to take him in for protection, he decides to take his life by jumping off a bridge into the Seine.

As he does, and looks to his left, he sees Rie Rasmussen as Angela (Angel-A), also preparing to jump off the same bridge. As she does he jumps in after her, to save her. And thus begins a wild ride in Andre's life. They make an odd-looking couple, he at 5-5 and she at over 6 feet with her high heels on, a fact accentuated by Besson's camera any chance they get.

A really fine, unique, and enjoyable movie. I give it high recommendations.

SPOILERS FOLLOW: Angela really is an angel, assigned to help Andre look at himself realistically and become a better person. She gets money to pay off his debts in a very unique way at a night club. And she gets Andre to eventually love who he is. But he also falls in love with her. When her assignment is over and they are talking near the bridge, her angel wings start to grow out, it is time for her to go. But Andre jumps and hangs onto her. Not being able to support both of them, they fall into the river. Back on shore, Angela examines her back, no sign of the wings, she is being given a chance to stay and live as a human.
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Once the contrived plot drops away and the two stars can simply interact this is a wonderful film
dbborroughs24 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Luc Besson's off beat comedy romance fantasy about a down on his luck con man who decides to kill himself, only to find himself rescuing a tall beautiful woman instead. The woman will do anything to help him and it soon become apparent that she is something more than human.

Shot in glorious black and white I don't know when Paris ever looked this good. Its a glorious looking film that is a real treat to look at. I had to take a couple of phone calls during the film so I paused the movie, only to find beautiful art print style pictures on my TV. Heavenly.

The plot line, of an angel helping out our stumble bum hero is a well worn one. Whats different is how Besson plays it against expectations, clearly he's a man who needs a bit of help, but contrary to most films of this type he's not a complete idiot. He's a man who's been worn away by the world and who really just needs some one to believe in him. (this would be a great double feature with Wings of Desire) To be honest most of the plot of Andre needing to get money and Angela helping him doesn't really work all that well. Its clearly been put in place so that Andre and Angela have something to do. What shines through that is the interplay between the two characters. There is a real affection for each other. Indeed once the money plot goes by the wayside and we simply concentrates on the two leads (who are in almost every shot) the film becomes a wonderful touching tale. More than once a tear came to my eye as the two slowly began to crash into each other. Its wonderfully romantic.

A word of warning. This is an odd ball movie in a way. The film is not what you think it is, or rather it wasn't what I thought it was. About half way through I was tempted to restart the film and watch it again because I suddenly had the feeling that I was not liking the film as much as I was going to on the next go round. It was clear that the film was doing what it wanted and that I wasn't ready to take it on its own terms. I resisted the temptation, but I'm pretty certain that I'm going to like this better on the second go round. I have a feeling this is a film you like the first time and love the second.

Warnings and reservations aside I do recommend this film. If you can go with its vibe I think you'll have a really good time. As for me, it made me wish I I had some one to love like that.
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ANGEL-A (Luc Besson, 2005) ***
Bunuel197623 April 2008
Last year, I foolishly missed out on an opportunity to attend a Q&A session with cult French film-maker Luc Besson at London’s National Film Theatre following a screening of his latest (and last?) directorial effort – the part live-action/part animated fantasy, ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES (2006). This is his film before that and, as a result of this viewing, I’ve now seen half of his filmography as a director. I keep stressing his status because, of late, his output as a writer and producer has been much more prolific and, perhaps necessarily, less significant.

In any case, ANGEL-A is fairly successful at what it sets out to be: a romantic noir-ish fantasy about a small-time Arabic crook stranded in Paris who, upon being persecuted (both verbally and physically) simultaneously by two of his bullying creditors, decides to take the easy way out by jumping to his death off a bridge. At this same instant, it seems, a stunning, long-legged blonde had reached the same conclusion too, but leaps ahead of the Arab who, naturally, is forced to dive in after her and retrieve her! Thus, is forged an uneasy but amusing alliance which sees the Arab enjoying new-found respect among his creditors (mainly through her own self-imposed “pimping” to the latter crowd).

ANGEL-A (in spite of being relatively brisk at 88 minutes) does get rather talky at times but the interaction between the two mismatched protagonists is never less than pleasant and, in fact, the central performances are the film’s very core. The belated revelation of the titular character’s true nature is not that much of a surprise or perhaps original enough to make this film particularly stand out within similarly-themed movies but, even so, Besson’s acknowledged visual flair (shot in luminous monochrome, no less) is its other most notable attribute.
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It WAS A Wonderful Life ...
writers_reign30 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
.. when it was Jimmy Stewart living it and Frank Capra directing it but Luc Besson's rip-off - a rip-off of a rip-off if you will for, just as Howard Hawks in His Girl Friday made the Hildy Johnson of Hecht-McCarthur's The Front Page a woman, so Besson takes the male angel Clarence of It's A Wonderful Life and turns him into a female here - has only the theme in common with Capra's timeless masterpiece. By far the best thing about this embarrassment is the photography, night-shot after night-shot of the City of Light hit you between the eyes so that ideally we could dispense with the banal story and watch it as a travelogue. For the record the plot concerns a two-bit hustler in over his head with the mob and toying with the idea of Brodying when he spots a girl with apparently the same idea and when she DOES jump into the Seine he instinctively follows her and saves her. Not that she was really in danger, natch. She is, you see, an angel, come to show him how great life can be if you know the right people. Where Capra went for subtle and let us hear a faint tinkle that symbolized Clarence earning his wings Besson prefers in-yer-face so that we see our angel sprout HER wings in front of our eyes. Of course if you've NEVER seen Woinderful Life ...
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My whole life I've been in the sh*t. No one ever helped me out. Ever.
lastliberal9 June 2008
A lot of people complain about foreign movies because they hate to read subtitles. But, if you want to sample something funny and familiar, you could not do better that this French film by director Luc Besson, a director I see frequently with films like Nikita, Leon (The Professional), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and The Fifth Element.

It is a familiar story that basically begins with a man (Jamel Debbouze) who is so far down the only place for him is off the bridge. An angel appears and saves him. You know that story don't you? You watch it every Christmas.

I would rather have Rie Rasmussen saving me than Clarence any day. Hot is an understatement for her! Just like the Capra flick, this will have a happy ending, but with a little twist. That's Besson for you!
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Another Angel With A Mission
view_and_review15 March 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Luc Besson has written some good stuff, so I wanted to check this out. The concept of "Angel-A" is not entirely original and honestly, it's a theme I usually avoid.

Andre Moussah (Jamel Debbouze) was a lying, self-loathing Parisian in serious debt. He was contemplating suicide when he saw a woman about to jump to her own death on the same bridge. When she jumped he jumped in the water to save her and in the process gained a companion. Later she informed him that she was an angel sent to save him, not from suicide, but from the self-destructive path he was on of lying, cheating, and self-loathing.

The idea of angels coming to Earth to help certain people has been done ad nauseum. Just watch "The Preacher's Wife," "Heavenly Kid," "Angels in the Outfield," "The Sixth Man," "Meet Joe Black," etc. "Angel-A" differs mostly because the angel (Rie Rasmussen) is not very angelic. She smokes, drinks, cusses, and wears a mini skirt. She referred to herself as a "sexy b****." She even falls in love with her charge, Andre. That's another concept that's been explored--the fact that angels have these pent-up desires that they can't wait to release once they get to Earth. Like we have it good on Earth while they're so miserable in Heaven.

This is not to say that the overall message of the movie wasn't good. Ultimately, it was about Angela being a woman, not an angel, saving Andre from himself. "Angel-A" would've been a lot better if it didn't go the angel-with-a-mission route.
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Not worthwhile, but has its moments.
bombersflyup10 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Angel-A lacks purpose, content or any believablility.

Done in comic book style without context, boundary or timeline established, it just doesn't work. However the ending's actually pretty terrific, in no way plausible, but terrific. Andre the balla, doesn't settle for the good life with a business, wife and three children, he goes for the whole caboodle, snagging the beautiful angel out of the air. Rasmussen has Gillian Anderson rain face.
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"...It's What's On The Inside That Matters..."
morrison-dylan-fan27 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Talking to a friend about the Cinéma du look title Nikita,I found out that they had recently picked up a Fantasy film by Luc Besson.Caught by the style he had shown with Nikita,I decided to see Besson's angel come down to earth.

The plot:

Unable to cover his debts to the underworld after the delay in his olive oil business, André Moussah decides to go to a bridge and kill himself. Just before he jumps off, Moussah is joined by a mysterious women called Angela,who jumps off the bridge,and into the river first.Forgetting his suicide plan, Moussah jumps in and saves her.Getting out of the river, Angela tells Moussah that as a thank you she will help him to solve all of life's problems. Laughing it off as he tells Angela about the mountain of debt he is faced with, Moussah soon gets a divine intervention.

View on the film:

Continuing Besson's major theme of strong female characters,the screenplay by writer/director Luc Besson whips up earthy Film Noir- style crime with a delicate fairy tale mood. Dovetailing Moussah and Angela's relationship,Besson displays lean comedic chops by making the angelic Angela have more of a Punk attitude round the gangsters than the hiding in the shadows Moussah. Bringing their feelings out in the open,Besson casts his fairy tale with a spell of loving yourself,which is stopped from being heavy-handed by the self- discovery deepening the bond between Angela and Moussah.

Landing on earth in crisp black and white, Besson and cinematographer Thierry Arbogast light their tale in shimming Film Noir shadows and quirky Art Deco designs which sets a off-beat other worldly backdrop for the mythical tale. Drinking up the Fantasy, Besson and Arbogast use elegant wide shots to give Angela a surrealist,larger than life appearance,which also wonderfully scores the exchange of power taking place between the couple. Jumping into the magic, Jamel Debbouze gives a great performance as Moussah,whose sense of wander is held by Debbouze with a fear about facing all the Noir misdeeds he is stuck in.Coming down from the sky, Rie Rasmussen gives an exquisite performance as Angela,thanks to Rasmussen laying Angela's body and facial language bare,as Moussah finds out how angelic Angela is.
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Simply Awesome!
Sylviastel5 December 2013
This film is about Andre Moussah, a broke man on the edge with debts to pay, in beautiful Paris, France. He jumps off one of the city's bridges one early Sunday morning to save a beautiful woman named Angela. She is tall, blonde, fast talking, intelligent , and ready to help Andre out any way she can. The movie is beautifully done in black and white with Paris in all its glory. Andre and Angela make an unlikely couple but Angela isn't who she appears to be. The actors do a first rate job in making me love this pair. I love the music. Luc Besson is a brilliant director who also wrote the screenplay. Besides being serious, this film is a lot of fun to watch anyway. You wish to be like Angela.
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Not Luc Bessons finest work to be honest.
deloudelouvain5 December 2020
I only watched this movie because I like most of the movies from Luc Besson, besides Subway, one of his early work that I didn't like. I can't say I liked this one though. The cinematography was okay, the black and white pictures were actually quite clear and not annoying. What was annoying though was the bad pronunciation of Rie Rasmussen. Luckily I had subtitles so I could figure out what she was saying as most of the time her French wasn't very clear, more a mumbling attempt of French. I don't think it was a good choice to chose her for this role, there are enough other tall bimbos that could have done better. As for Jamel Debbouze I never liked him as a comedian, he always manages to annoy me instead of making me laugh, but I thought that in another more serious role he might be better, but to be honest he didn't really. I still find him annoying to watch. I guess Angel-A will be the second movie from Luc Besson that didn't impress me at all. Subway and Angel-A, both movies with a weak uninteresting plot that don't deserve such a high rating on IMDb.
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Romantic movie, slightly above average
siderite15 January 2007
I say slightly, because the story itself is not original, only this particular interpretation. Rie Rasmussen looks gorgeous in her role as the angel, while Jamel Debbouze is really fit for his role as the pathetic crook.

There isn't much I can say about the film. The scenes are what matter and the way the actors interact. The actors themselves are just a few, making the entire movie look like it sprung up from a play.

Bottom line: if you are in the mood for a romantic movie (y'know, boy meets girl) with a little twist, go for it. The pace is a little slow, though, and the fact that the plot is really predictable doesn't help either.
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Literally falling in love
KineticSeoul22 October 2009
I like Luc Besson movie's cause they are so comic book like in a good way and this film is no exception. The plot follows a loser of a man that is in dept up to his knees and so decides to commit suicide by jumping off of a bridge, but before he tries to jump a tall women tries to jump off as well, the loser tries to convince the women not to jump but she does anyways and the loser saves her life. In return she does everything he asks her to do, even clearing his debts with dangerous people by working her magic. And soon they start to bond and realizes that the loser if falling for her but she isn't all it seems. The film is also black and white so the audience can see the contradiction amongst the characters. This film makes you grin with enjoyment throughout most of the film cause of the mystery behind it, and will make you sad when the film wants the audience to feel sad and yet touched. This is a angelic and moving film that is a tear jerker, while also being captivating with it's beauty.

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Visually stunning comic fantasy
Buddy-5110 June 2009
"Angel-A," from visionary French director Luc Besson, is a snazzy, jazzy comic fantasy about a petty hood who's so up to his neck in debt that his only recourse would appear to be jumping off the nearest bridge into the Seine below. Lucky for him, he's rescued at the last moment by a leggy, blond angel who's been sent to earth to help the poor, benighted soul find a new purpose and meaning in life. However, much to her surprise, Angela (aka Angel-A) discovers that, even for a celestial being like herself, the process of redemption can turn out to be a bit of a two-way street.

Filmed in glorious black-and-white, the movie provides us with a playful tour of a picture-perfect Paris, as Andre and Angela go about the business of raising the exorbitant sums of money Andre will need if he is to avoid being rubbed out by all the unsavory characters out to get him. And, indeed, Andre is pretty much a complete failure as a criminal, being both too open-hearted and too lacking in self-confidence to ever be truly successful in that line of work. Apparently, it takes an intervention by a divine being like Angela to bring out the best in the man.

Rie Rasmussen and Jamel Debbouze are both wonderful in their roles of the savior and the saved, but the real star of this sweet, witty and highly stylized motion picture is the rich and glowing cinematography by Thierry Arbogast, which provides the visual equivalent of stepping into a series of Ansel Adams photos brought miraculously to life. And, quite frankly, I doubt that Paris itself has ever looked more stunning than it does in this film.
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Angels in the sky of Paris
dromasca2 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Angels movie genre hit its pick in 1987 with Win Wenders' 'Der Himmel über Berlin'. I am pretty sure that Luc Besson had very much in mind this movie while doing 'Angel-A'.

And yet, it is the angel story that is the weak and predictable part of the movie. It almost look as a inverse re-make, with a weak Hollywood style script based on a thin story taken over by an European director and trying to make a real film out of it. With mixed results I should say.

The story is about a small crook of Algerian origin, running in big trouble at the fringe of the society. A second before he is to commit suicide he calls God in help, and God sends him an angel , under the skin of a beautiful prostitute, 20 cm taller than him. She (or should I say it) is an angel, but - wonder - the process of human awakening will happen to both. And hence, a love story, in the good or bad tradition that you would expect.

There are still beautiful parts in the movie, starting with the exquisite acting of Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen and ending with the splendid camera work. Paris was filmed many times, in all seasons and all colors. What director Luc Besson and cinematography director Thierry Arbogast did will stay certainly in any best filmed Paris movies anthologies. And even if only for this, the film is worth being seen.
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An Angel In Paris
Chrysanthepop22 July 2013
Luc Besson's enchanting 'Angel-A' is a modern-day fairy tale film noire fantasy set in black and white Paris. This is perhaps Besson's tribute to the film noire and Godard. It's also quite dialogue oriented (reminding me a bit of Kassovitz's 'La Haine' even though both movies are completely different). The dialogues are amusing. Besson plays around with symbols and words.

At times 'Angel-A' feels like a poem as it has a whimsical flow and the city is used to its advantage. The director himself said that Paris is the third main character and I wouldn't disagree. Not only does it look stunning but it works brilliantly as Andre and Angela's platform and path to discovering truth. Thierry Arbogast's cinematography is marvelous as he beautifully captures each image giving life to the world of the two protagonists. The lighting department also deserves as much credit for giving more depth to the visuals.

André Moussah seems to have been tailor made for Jamel Debbouze as it's hard to picture any other actor in that role. The actor plays it to the T. Equally, wonderful is Rie Rasmussen who plays Angela, the anti-Moussah, anti in the sense that Angela is everything André is not.

'Angel-A' is a modern day fantasy about learning to love yourself. Only then, can you strive to be more.
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A harmless way to kill 90 minutes
Chris Knipp31 May 2007
An angel twice removed from Wenders plays shrink to a little guy. . .

This Capra-esquire movie about an angel who rescues a small-time con artist is a well-meaning but underwhelming effort on the French director Luc Besson's part to shift from his usual profile. As a producer, he has 88 credits; as a writer, 35; as a director, only 15, and this is the first film he made since his critically unsuccessful 1999 'The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.' 1999, as it happens, was the year Patrice Lecomte directed an ingenious film in tinted black and white, 'The Girl on the Bridge,' in which Daniel Auteuil rescues Johnny Depp's girlfriend Vanessa Paradis when she jumps off a Paris bridge in a pale but harmless echo of 'Wings of Desire;' and Auteuil turns out to be a circus knife thrower in need of a new partner.

Besson's film, at another remove from Wim Wenders but still in tinted black and white, has a another guy jump into the Seine to rescue a beautiful dame. He's the cuddly puppy-dog André (Jamel Debbouze). He was about to jump himself and the girl he rescues (though he can't swim: go figure) is a thin leggy blonde called Angela, or Angel-A (get it?), played by Rie Rasmussen. Yes, she's an angel, and she's come down to restore André's self-esteem. Shrinks are a bit thin on the ground in Paris, it would seem—at least when you're short of funds. (In 2001 Jean-Hugues Anglade played one for Beineix in another ill-starred film ('Mortel transfert') following a directorial hiatus—but that's another story.) Long, verbose (and hard to follow) conversations ensue between Angela and André, who we already knew is in big trouble with a gangster named Frank (Gilbert Melki, back to a role that exploits his ready scowl). Frank wants a lot of euros from André. Angela scores a lot of them, in the film's most memorable sequence, by turning tricks in the ultra-tech bathroom of a stylish dance bar. She drinks, and she smokes like a chimney. This has happened—the angel-smoking-and-drinking part—in a lackluster American film, Nora Ephron's 1996 'Michael,' another of John Travolta's missteps. It must be some kind of smoker's and drinker's fantasy: if you live in Heaven you can't get cancer or wreck your liver. The film's other best sequence is the one where Angela sprouts wings and flies around with André clinging to her. The special effects are better than the conversation. But a filmmaker should learn to talk before he tries to fly.

Jamel Debbouze is a prominent Arab-French actor who had a major role in Bouchareb's 2006 'Indigènes' ('Days of Glory'), which depicts the plight of Algerians who fought for France in WWII. 'Angel-A' costar Rie Rasmussen is a Danish-born super-model and film student who has lived and studied in the US. Luc Besson's attempt to do something more small-scale and humane is not going to win any awards, but it's a harmless enough way to while away 90 minutes. This took some time to get to the States, but they have plenty of that in Heaven; and meanwhile Besson has produced 29 more films, including the superb 'The Singer' (Giannoli), the much-awarded 'Tell No One' (Canet), and the fine 'Golden Door' (Crialese).
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Good concept loses tension, mistreats subjects
Polaris_DiB3 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I like Luc Besson, and I was also looking forward to this movie very much. I was disappointed in both counts. Now, where Besson is concerned, he does keep the plot moving forward at a nice pace (something like a job) and the concept itself is a winner, but the movie starts going down hill the moment Angela reveals her divine powers--which is about half way through the movie. After that, the tension is gone and except for a notable sequence involving looking oneself in the mirror, otherwise doesn't go anywhere.

Another thing really bothered me about this movie: how violent it was. Hold on, wait, what? The guy who likes Takashi Miike films is complaining about violence in a movie that barely even has blood. Here's the thing: Angela the character decides to help the main character, and said "help" pretty much involves kicking butt on a LOT of people. It's never a whole lot and they're usually dispatched really quickly, but it seems weird that a movie about finding the ability to love oneself and each other is basically drawn along a path that involves even so much as seducing men with sex and then crushing their heads into toilets. It's like Luc Besson saw "The Secret" and decided to turn it into an action film, which is why it obviously doesn't work.

Another thing to note is that this makes a companion piece to The Messenger and Fifth Element: super or divine women in the world of men ultimately clearing up their conflicts with martial skills and sexiness.

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Happiness is not in heaven
Chris_Docker20 July 2006
Director Luc Besson is quoted as saying, "Cinema never saved anyone's life, it is not a medicine that will save anyone's life. It is only an aspirin." That doesn't mean we don't sometimes like our aspirin in posh packaging and that's exactly what we get with Besson's new movie, his first directorial venture for six years.

Angel-A is a romantic comedy shot in black and white and with subtitles. While it is not entirely without merit, the fancy wrapper, illustrated with a plentiful helping of Parisian photo-opportunities, should not lull you into believing you are watching of film of real quality or substance. While there is a great mish-mash of talent scattered throughout, I found myself wishing for the first half that a Hollywood re-make could edit the jokes with better comic timing. "Your problem is that you're always running instead of hitting pause," the leggy blonde heroine (Angela) tells our forsaken and suicidal André, and that's exactly what it feels like as the verbal jokes are disgorged on an audience without time to digest or appreciate them, and the slapstick is wasted from lack of pacing.

Fortunately things do get better, especially as we are made privy to Angela's mission. Having picked up some emotional ballast, the jokes have more to reverberate off. The best bit, after being given a mission, she tells him, is going to wardrobe - on this occasion she has decided to do "slut" - which she pulls off very convincingly (although when she turns her hand to beating up bad guys she reminded me more of the deadly android Pris from Bladerunner).

Angela's rather more-than-human task could easily have descended into farce, but Besson cleverly chooses the moment of revelation to get more serious. From hereon in, the movie gets more interesting, throwing in gender psychology and marginally more intellectual challenges. "I am you," she tells him - he may be a man on the outside but inside he's just a six-foot slut. The emptiness of the opening section makes this intense characterisation welcome and I could eat up such pretentious lines and the tearful looks with glee. It even makes sure it doesn't take itself too seriously (the line follows on from a scene where André is getting changed in a women's toilet and Angela counters an elderly lady's vexation by insisting, "He's a woman really", implying he's transsexual.) Although Angel-A has 'strong language and sex references' justifying its '15' certificate, there's no nudity and we are left wondering if even the sex scenes were in our imagination. Besson does succeed in getting us to think about Angels - as well as Fallen Angels, Falling in Love, and Why do Angels Need to Eat a Calcium-Rich Diet; but the idea of angels shedding some divine light into the life of mortals is heavily polluted with selfish wish-fulfilment. In the Bible, angels were originally 'sons of God' who came to earth to sire children on mortal women. Later, they were called demons, 'fallen' angels, until the Book of Enoch cut to the chase in true patriarchal fashion and blamed women for the angels' fall. Here they ask us if happiness is not, indeed, in heaven. A 2005 Harris Poll showed that 68% of Americans believe in angels (rising to nearly 80% in the less educated), suggesting that the film will be further 'cleaned up' for any American re-make. Until then, if Angel-A is not exactly the classic it aspires to be, it's quirkier and classier than the average chick-flick and should be enjoyed as such. Much could be said in criticism of it, but for such a relatively humble offering it could be more divine to forgive.
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Dear Lord, THIS is what angels should look like! Mercy!!
rooprect1 April 2009
First, to all you grumpy smurfs who are slamming Besson for "ripping off [...]", chill out! Don't you recognize a pastiche when you see one? If you bear that in mind, you'll thoroughly enjoy this carefree ride through angel territory, whether it's Frank Capra's funny cliché of meeting a suicidal angel by diving off a bridge, Wim Wender's suggestion that angels must always be filmed in black & white, or possibly even a touch of Christopher Walken's good-angel-bad-angel gimmick from The Prophecy, it's all in there plus more. Most of all, I think Besson tips his hat to the classic Der Himmel über Berlin (1987) by showing not Berlin but the glory of Paris in one of the most flattering presentations of that city I've ever seen. It's funny, we're trained to imagine a colourful Paris in the spring, but I never realized how breathtaking it can be in monochrome.

The plot of ANGEL-A is simple & charming. It has a few twists to keep you guessing. Most of all what captivated me (well, besides Rie's long LEGS!) was the chemistry between Rie and Jamel, two people you'd never expect to see on a date; yet together they light up the screen like they're MFEO. Their dialogues are brisk & cheeky, almost like Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant in the old days. And at the same time, there's a lot of intensity behind every word, and you may find yourself rewinding or watching the film twice to catch everything that was said, especially if you're reading subtitles.

And Rie is freaking HAWT.

Let me say that again. Rie is freaking HAWT. Sexy but not slutty ...and with a mean hook kick. Just the way you'd expect your angels to be.

The film does hit a few bumps, particularly when it touches on the spiritual themes like where angels come from, what's their function, and the biggie: who's running the show? I was surprised to see Besson shy away from these topics--maybe because he got in some hot water for his iconoclastic ideas in his earlier film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (a film which I really enjoyed, despite the critics' hissing). But just as well, I think it was his intent to keep this film on the lighter side this time.

And I think that's the point. Don't expect Leon the Professional or La Femme Nikita, and certainly don't expect an atheistic Dustin Hoffman dressed up like a monk. This is Besson's time to go easy & have fun. Again, don't get caught up in whom he's "ripping off". Don't get bogged down in the spiritual/religious significance of it all. Don't even try too hard to understand the ending (though there's much room for interpretation). Just relax and enjoy the show; you won't be disappointed.
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My 332nd Review: A wonderful film about true romance in the grit of Paris
intelearts26 July 2010
Angel A is one of those wonderful films that is truly an experience and original - as we watched we felt ourselves becoming more and ore drawn to this loser and this impossibly tall girl and their story.

Both a fairy tale and a gritty look at Paris' underworld Besson mixes together a wonderful romance adds humor and fear and gives us something unique and magical.

We were really moved by this: a tale of love that is definitely out of the ordinary. Shot in black and white and beautifully lit and composed, there is an ethereal, yet truly gritty tone to this that really does capture the viewer.

The plot is almost impossible to describe without revealing spoilers, except to say André, a total loser, jumps from a bridge and saves Angela, and the adventure begins.

Above all, this is film, and a film that you can experience and remember: a masterclass in brilliant captivating storytelling it might well be one of the great romantic movies - just different from beginning to end - and warmly recommended.
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Powerful film built on 2 amazing performances
blott2319-114 January 2021
I think the first thing that must be discussed about Angel-A is the casting. I'd never heard of either of these actors before watching the movie but they were so perfect for the roles. Having a short hairy Jamel Debbouze as the insecure liar who keeps getting himself into trouble works great, but even better is when he is contrasted with the tall and beautifully statuesque Rie Rasmussen. They are such an odd and unlikely pair that it works for this story. I love their interactions, and the contrast between the two of them. Perhaps even more remarkable is how they show the change in each of them as they spend more time together and start to rub off on one another. The emotional impact of the climax at the end of this film hit me like a ton of bricks, and a lot of that is because Rasmussen and Debbouze play out all that emotion so powerfully. There was also another intense moment earlier in the movie that made me tear up, because of what was happening and how well the actors performed the scene.

There are definitely some fuzzy plot points in this movie, and I was at times a bit confused at how Angela was influencing the people they came in contact with, to do things that are totally out of character. It feels like there would be a lot of people still ready to seek retribution on André, but there are several unexplained magical things going on, so I guess we're just supposed to let that go and assume everything will be fine. I wasn't interested in nitpicking the film too much after I was done watching because it made me feel so good. There is a surprising amount of heart in this story, and I love some of the messages that it teaches. It focuses a great deal on the value of truth, and the power of self-confidence. I'm not sure the ending was perfect, even if it felt good, it didn't play quite right. The conclusion threatened to undermine some of the messaging up to that point. However, when I watch this again, I might appreciate the finale more and see how it ties into the overall themes. And that's the most important point, no matter what flaws I might have seen in the movie, I didn't say "IF I watch this again, " I said "WHEN" because Angel-A is a solid movie that I expect to watch multiple times in the future.
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