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  Angel-A Heaven Must Have Sent Her
Year: 2005
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen, Gilbert Mercki, Serge Riaboukine, Akim Chir, Eric Balliet
Genre: Comedy, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: This is André Moussah (Jamel Debbouze) and he is in a spot of bother. He owes money to some gangster types that he does not have, in fact he is stony broke, and now the heavies have threatened him with violence if he does not pay up within twenty-four hours. He cannot excape Paris by rail as every station has some of the men of gang boss Mr Franck (Gilbert Mercki) posted there who will recognise him, so he goes for an alternative option and heads over to the American embassy. André won a green card in a lottery, so surely he will be able to find some place abroad to live, except that he is turned down due to his criminal record. He needs a miracle now...

And a miracle is what he gets, in the towering, platinum blonde shape of one Angela (Rie Rasmussen), who he meets when he tries to commit suicide by leaping into the Seine. Or rather, he climbs over the bridge's barrier and is about to jump to his doom when he notices a woman standing in exactly the same position, looking upset and actually having the same idea as he does. I don't know why so many films start with such a macabre meet cute as having their main character meet a potential partner when they're about to kill themselves, and in truth this film didn't particularly examine this device either, but Angela steps off the bridge and André goes in after her.

Neither die, and André pulls her to the bank where they begin the relationship that will transform him. You can tell this is the movies because pretty much only in that environment will a man at the end of his tether get such a fantastical break that will prove to him that life is still worth living and solve his pressing problems, so there's a lot asked of the viewer to buy into a situation that is hard to believe from the start. Not that fantasy plots especially have to adhere to gritty realism, but here the notions fuelling the action are as light as one of Angela's feathers - she's an actual angel, you see, although we don't find that out until half the movie is over.

Nevertheless, you can tell that there is a supernatural element from the title, even if it doesn't appear till the very end. Presumably if you stumbled across this on television one night you'd be surprised about the twist, but Angela is so much the saviour of André from her first scenes you would suspect that she was too good to be true. Except, in the context of writer and director Luc Besson's movie, true is precisely what she is, and he appears to be harking back to an earlier form of fantasy production, the sort that René Clair or those of his ilk might have come up with if he were still around in 2005. With a new century, however, a more grownup side was included to such things.

Therefore Angela solves the exasperated André's debt problems by accompanying him to see Mr Franck and after her new friend has blustered unconvincingly about an olive oil deal he has secured, she invites the dodgy businessman upstairs so she can pay off the debt in some other manner. He agrees, and soon André is outside with a handful of euros to distribute amongst those he owes money to, although he is not too happy about the way that he came across the cash. And you might think that this, and a further scene where Angela apparently prostitutes herself in a club to a succession of men, might leave you uncertain about how charming this thinks it is, but Besson has a way of explaining these parts away (although they're not entirely convincing). At its heart, Angel-A has the strength of the buddy romance between Debbouze, always an engaging actor, and Rasmussen, very well cast, but it's too flimsy and artificial to really have the desired effect. Music by Anja Garbarek.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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