Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is It Real? Is It A Fairy Tale? Reviewing Angel-A

Andre is an inept con artist who has made a lot of bad business deals with a lot of  bad people. When we meet him, Andre's luck has run out and his time is almost up as he faces multiple death threats. Despairing, he decides to end it all by jumping off of a bridge into the Seine.

At the point of jumping, Andre notices a tall, gorgeous woman who jumps from the bridge, and Andre's thoughts turn from suicide to saving her as he jumps and drags her out of the water.

Thus we meet Angela. She pledges to help Andre in any way she can as thanks for saving her life. Andre says that no one has helped him in his entire life and, therefore, he's skeptical as to why such a gorgeous woman would want to help him at all but agrees. He becomes increasing alarmed at the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get the money he needs to pay off the thugs on his trail. Meanwhile, Angela continually tells Andre that beauty is on the inside, not the outside, and that he is good deep down. As Andre begins to believe her and to act accordingly, his fortune changes, and he begins to want to change Angela's fate in turn.

Beautifully shot in black and white, this movie was directed by Luc Besson who is known for movies like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and Taken. In an interview at Movies Online, Besson commented on the black and white format by saying:
Black and white because yin and yang, because tall and small, introverted extroverted, blonde brown, the good the bad, the black the white, everything is in opposition in the film. And I need the film to have this little poetry. Is it real? Is it a dream? Is it a fairy tale?
The key message of Angel-A is that you don't have to be good for life to be sacred, and you can begin to be good even if you have failed to be.

This movie is extremely straight forward in plot line. There are a few surprises but they are foreshadowed for the most part. I found the plot rather simplistic, but enjoyed it well enough and can recommend it on those grounds. My key problem is that the ending was a cop out because there wasn't the proper set up or story-line logic to make it a realistic conclusion. Along those lines, a much superior movie which communicates the same basic message is In Bruges.

For those who don't mind a tacked-on ending out of nowhere, I can recommend this movie. I specifically enjoyed the humorous moments such as at the American embassy where Andre cannot even con the US official (and where they both spoke fluent French the entire time) and at the police station where Andre pleads to be arrested. If nothing else it is simply beautiful to look at in composition and photography, although there is more to recommend it to the viewer than that. (Rated R for language and some sexual content.) 


  1. I absolutely loved this movie!

  2. Comment from Jennifer, sent to me (NOTE >>> SPOILERS AHEAD!)

    "I note you make no reference to It's A Wonderful Life......I think there is some either intentional, or at least accidental but notable, parallel and opposition. The differences between the two movies strike me."

  3. Thank you for the review. I'd seen the trailer for it, but it never came to my neck of the woods. But maybe I'll ask my neighbor to add it to his Netflix queue for me.