Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen, Gilbert Melki, Serge Riaboukine
Written by: Luc Besson
Directed by: Luc Besson
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 12/21/2005

Angel-A (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Wing and a Player

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One-man pulp factory Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Transporter, etc.) claims he never saw It's a Wonderful Life before writing and directing this tale of a poor sad sack, André (Jamel Debbouze, from Amélie and Days of Glory), who interrupts his own suicide to rescue a beautiful blonde (model Rie Rasmussen, from Femme Fatale), who jumps into the Seine just moments earlier. She turns out to be an angel assigned to boost his self-esteem and make him believe in himself. (Her name is 'Angela.' Get it?) Shooting in black-and-white and in 'Scope, Besson conjures up some astoundingly gorgeous visuals, mainly a dreamy, neon-drenched, throbbing Paris, but also juxtaposing the diminutive André with the tall, leggy Angela. Besson keeps the tone sweet and light, like a fairy tale, but that can't stop the fact that some of the material is offensively sexist; Angela uses her looks and sex appeal to get money for the debt-ridden André, rather than actually teaching him anything useful. It's a strange mix, though, because I haven't seen a film this intoxicatingly lovely in some time.

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