Angel-A Luc Besson

Angel-A Luc Besson

It had been some years since Luc Besson made his failed bid to be an American director when he resurfaced with this so-French love letter to the city of lights. His approach to a comeback is to take one lowlife Parisian loser (Jamel Debbouze) in arrears to various dodgy types, have him save the life of an apparently suicidal looker (Rie Rassmussen), and then record his surprise as the woman not only pays back his debts but turns out to be an angel as well. Unsurprisingly, it failed to win him back his cult audience — where his earlier films had flash visuals or kick-ass action to offset the sap, here we have nothing more than Besson’s desire to become the Eurotrash Frank Capra. Though Thierry Arbogast’s black-and-white ’scope shooting is very nice indeed, the film hasn’t the cutting edge-cool of the director’s initial work. Instead, the film is a reminder that first-wave MTV/cinema du look movies are a quarter-century old and looking slightly saggy. Wrenched from the vitality of youth, Besson has made a movie that could only have been made through middle-age wistfulness, but he’s still married to the idea of being young and hip, making the movie slightly embarrassing to watch. I’ve mostly found Besson’s movies to be ridiculous schlock, but I understand why people like them and have to admit that on some level they work. By contrast, Angel-A is a movie without an audience, the act of someone trying to appeal to a youth market that’s already passed into history. It’s pretty, but don’t get your hopes up. The only extra is a fairly lengthy "making of” doc, and although you get more of a sense of what production was like than the average clip, it’s sadly marred by too much convivial jokiness. (Sony)