Angel-A (2005)

Rating: ★★★★½

This is a fantastic movie from one of my favorite French directors. Here’s the synopsis from

It’s a Wonderful Life meets Wings of Desire in French director Luc Besson’s Angel-A, a surprisingly charming fable of low-life redemption. The low-life in question is André (Jamel Debbouze, from Amelie), a mousy, disheveled Parisian scam artist who’s deeply in debt to various underworld thugs. Suicide seems like the best available option, but just as he’s about to leap into the Seine, he encounters Angela (Danish model/actress/filmmaker Rie Rasmussen), a leggy blonde beauty who’s going to change André’s life in ways he never expected. Filmed in gorgeous black and white in a shimmering Paris that seems almost completely depopulated (most of the filming took place in early-morning sunlight), Angel-A is a rough-edged yet ultimately sweet-natured tale of two chatty characters who find new hope through mutual devotion, and that’s likely to disappoint any Besson fans who are expecting another high-octane crime thriller like Leon–The Professional. And yet, Besson’s tenth film has a light, feathery quality that works in its favor, even when the characters lack interest and their scenes together grow slightly redundant. Debbouze is perfectly cast as a likable loser who deserves a break, and Rasmussen (who memorably appeared in Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale, wearing nothing but lavish diamonds and a killer smile) is, to say the least, angelically seductive. How well you respond to this romantic fantasy will depend on how attracted you are to these characters, but if you give Angel-A a chance, you might find it to be a worthy companion to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, two other appealing films about love, set in, respectively, Vienna and Paris. –Jeff Shannon Click here to buy the DVD.