Directed by Luc Besson,
Starring Rie Rasmussen and Jamel Debbouze.
“A compelling romantic fable, beautifully filmed and superbly acted. It is classic Besson.”
Ask most people about a Luc Besson film, and most will exclusively wheel out the exotic pedigree that is the action film “Taken.” However, if you were to glance back into Besson’s previous works you will almost certainly unearth other visual riches. Groundbreaking films such as “Leon,” and “The Fifth Element” are just a few in a noticeable list of films which are simply a must see treat. Angel-A is most certainly no exception. In fact is one of Besson’s finest, and sure to be considered a modern classic in French cinema.
With any film set in Paris (which is considered to be the world’s most beautiful city,) you come to expect many things; angelic views, elegant woman, stylish personas and the Eiffel Tower. What you don’t expect is a striking supernatural love story, centered on two fascinating characters that share lot of depth. Angel-A begins with two strangers who meet on a quintessentially Parisian bridge early one morning. Looking to escape his past as a failed scam artist, Andre (Jamel Debbouze) accepts the help of a mysterious woman named Angela (Rie Rasmussen.) Together, Andre watches in amazement as she battles through the French mafia, seedy club managers, loan sharks, and just about every undesirable element Andre owes money to. The philanthropic tale here could’ve quite easily been made into a typical cliché ridden revenge tale. But amidst the skullduggery and Angela’s direct bordering on smashing-your-face-open-with-a-fruit-bowl-and-robbing-your-safe approach, the film has seen great innovation. Instead of choosing to go gun ho with the story, it instead weaves the story with emotion and indictments on the human condition. This is particularly apparent with the character of Andre, who on several occasions has to confront with his conscience and decide what concerns him more- money or love.
The acting performances throughout are flawless, and set to carry an audience through the impending ordeals and intimate touching moments with flawless finesse. Rasmussen and Debbouze fall into their roles with immaculate ease, portraying their characters in such a way that you are powerless to remain emotionally divorced from the events onscreen. Rasmussen’s sexy but assertive femme fatale demeanor, exudes confidence with such natural flair and poise. Debbouze also gives an outstanding performance of a desperate con man that has hit rock bottom and is now teetering at breaking point. This is all strongly supported by a fantastic network of supporting actors, whose role it is to be the catalyst for each event as the fable unfolds.
The film itself is entirely in black and white. This provides a gorgeous old world noir feel to each scene that, whilst being wonderful in its simplicity, has also enabled Besson to make each set dense with meaning. Throughout, the unadorned filming means that you are never distracted by erroneous background details. You instead notice the subtle clever symbolism present within the film.
Whilst this film is not the usual action packed, gun-toting film Luc Besson is most noted for; this remarkable, mellow film is a compelling romantic fable. It is beautifully filmed and superbly acted, making it one of the finest sure-to-be modern classic French cinema films available.