Saturday, 15 March 2014

“Angel-A” on BLU RAY – A Review Of The 2009 Luc Besson Film

Here is a link to Amazon UK to get this BLU RAY at the best price:

“…It’s What’s On The Inside That Matters…” 

Coming from Writer/Director LUC BESSON who gave the world the Sci-Fi/Indiana Jones extravaganzas “The Fifth Element” and “The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec” and tense/ballsy thrillers like “Taken”, “Nikita” and “Leon” – the pared-back almost serene “Angel-A” is not what you’d expect from this amazingly gifted Frenchman. Yet it so works.

Large part of the credit has to go to the casting one of his favourite lead actors JAMEL DEBBOUZE. Squat, cute, compelling – his lined crumpled features and stubbly chin are akin to a French Humphrey Bogart – the kind of actor whose face and watery eyes can express so much and have you routing for his character with an investment that feels personal. And like most Male Directors of a certain age - our Luc likes his leading ladies too (the prettier the better). Enter the extraordinary-looking RIE RASMUSSEN.

Jamel plays Andre Massau – an Algerian pint-sized low-life living in Paris who steals croissants from restaurant tables and owes money to Frank the Frenchman and Pedro the Spaniard. But unless Andre pays up more than 50,000 Euro by midnight Saturday – his body will be ‘everywhere’ on Sunday morning. Failing to find solace in the American Embassy (a green card he won in a Lottery), even the French Police won’t put him in Jail so he can be safe for a few days. Andre finally goes to the bridge overlooking the Seine and toys with the idea of ending it all. But annoyingly he’s not alone. A six-foot high stick-insect blond in a tight black party dress with a pearl necklace sporting legs that stretch six miles into the ground is also on the wrong side of the ornate railings about to do the same. With her tear-stained makeup - she jumps – Andre follows - pulls her to the embankment - and for saving her from the clutches of despair – she ‘gives’ herself to him for the whole of Sunday. But first she needs a cigarette…

The similarity between “Angel-A” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” with its message of intervention to show us the errors of our ways will not escape many – Besson has just updated the story to modern day living. His principal character Andre is a self-loathing loser who still has some good left inside him somewhere. He just desperately needs to learn to “breathe” and “live in the moment” – and who better to teach him than a 300-year old chain-smoking angel falling from the sky that looks like a high-class hooker. But as Andre watches Angela pimp herself out in a nightclub for 1000 Euro per sweaty leering client – he begins to see the consequences of his greed - and worse – how he is his own worst enemy (sharks he repays with her ill-gotten gains tap into his gullible nature again by flattery because they know it works).

Cleverly resisting flashy celestial scenes – special effects are kept to a minimum allowing story and character to be all. But as Andre’s eventful Sunday progresses - slowly Angela wakes him up (dialogue above) and after an ashtray reveal in a café - money worries don’t matter anymore because love is also in the air.
First up is the look of “Angel-A”. Shot in black and white in old-world Paris – the locations and city pulse are beautifully rendered on BLU RAY. Defaulted to 2.35:1 aspect – there are bars on the top and bottom – but even stretched to full screen – the picture is never anything less than cinematically fab (note: if you do extend the aspect – the English subtitles will go off-screen).

There’s an entertaining “Making Of” featurette that has interviews with Director, Producer JEROME LATEUR and the Cast, a “Making Of The Music For Angel-A” featuring composer ANJA GARBAREK and her musicians and a Theatrical Trailer.  English is the Subtitle for this French-language film.

“Angel-A” isn’t your typical box-office fare – but it is masterfully done – and will get to you more than you think. Flap your credit card’s wings for this one…

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