Directed by Luc Besson.
Written by Luc Besson.
Starring Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 1/30/07
Signs that you are at the Sundance Film
300 people pay $10-$15 per ticket to see
a nearly-two-year-old black & white comedy/fantasy film directed
by Luc Besson, who did "The Professional" and "The Fifth
Luc Besson himself shows up to introduce
the film, which is his first-ever entry into the festival.
Although the film was received with middling
praise in Besson's home of France, "Angel-A" went over very well
with both my particular audience and myself...it's a much smaller
film than you are used to with Besson (his previous directorial
effort prior to "Angel-A" was "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of
Arc", a whopping six-year gap) but it has the same kind of energy
you got from "The Fifth Element", thanks to the performances of just
two people. Algerian native (and U.S. Green Card holder)
André, played by Jamel Debbouze, is having a really bad day--he's in
major debt with a number of other small-time criminals in Paris and
all of them seem to want their money right now. Down on his
luck and nearly out of time to make good on his payments by a
deadline the next morning, André decides that life is not worth
living any more...and, goes to the nearest bridge and prepares to
end his life by jumping into a river...until a VERY leggy blonde
nearby (Rie Rasmussen) decided that this morning would also be a
good day to kill herself, so when the blonde jumps, André is forced
to save the woman's life. When they reach shore, the woman
decides to pay her savior back by doing whatever he wants for the
rest of the day, serving as a sort-of guardian angel for André as he
attempts to find a way to use this inconvenience as a springboard to
find the confidence to pay those freakin' gangsters back.
The production design and the cinematography
of "Angel-A" are so gorgeous that, on their own, you won't be
disappointed with the work of the filmmakers. But, it doesn't
hurt that the story is always moving, and at a zippy 90 minutes,
"Angel-A" rides the energy of the performances of the two leads to
explore personal issues without losing focus on the fantasy of the
whole affair. Debbouze is excellent, manic, completely crazy
and passionate throughout; Rasmussen is a decent foil, even if she
looks strangely just like Besson's ex-wife Milla Jovovich, leggy,
blonde, great eyes, only decent acting talent but nice onscreen
charisma. They are the only real performers in the film, but
that works well, all the way to a slightly-questionable ending.
I'm excited to see what happens for this
movie here in the States; hopefully, it will be picked up and see
the light of day.
Rating: Opening Weekend
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard