January 22, 2016

Angel-A (Luc Besson, 2005)





Luc Besson has a certain sentimentality and sense of humor that sneaks into many of his films from Le Dernier Combat to La Femme Nikita to Leon to Lucy. It's not something that's easy to put into words, but there's definitely an atmosphere, a universe in which Besson dwells. And in his films he transports us to this universe as well. So then one has to imagine, what if Luc Besson remade Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life (man disappointed with how his life has gone decides to jump off a bridge but his attempt is interrupted by an angel who helps him see the good within himself); but in order to play up the presence of the angel he made it a woman and blended in elements of Wim Wender's Wings of Desire (angels are sent to keep tabs on humans and every once in a while one desires to experience life in the flesh). That he shot this film in black-and-white could support either of those claims. While on the surface it borrows elements from both of those films; at its heart it is very different. Here we have Andre, who has gotten himself neck-deep in debt to the mob in Paris; he decides the only escape is to end his life. Enter Angela, who at first seems destitute herself, but there's something about her that's just too good. The film moves at a steady pace revealing more and more about each character as we go. Beautifully shot on the streets of Paris, it is a film where the city is an unspoken character in the play.

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