Monday, 7 September 2015


“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.” - BenjaminDisraeli

We watched a quirky, fun film the other day, which we enjoyed quite a lot. It was Luc Besson’s 2005 comedy/fantasy “Angel-A” starring Rie Rasmussen, Jamel Debbouze and Gilbert Melki. Luc Besson also wrote the screenplay, and it seems to have been a labour of love. Although not entirely original, the plot works and hinges on redemption and personal growth of the protagonist to make it appealing for the viewer.

The plot has as follows: André (Jamel Debbouze) is a small-time ex-convict who seems to owe money to everyone in Paris, including a crime boss who threatens to kill him if he doesn’t repay him by midnight. After failing to find protection from the American embassy and the French police, a despairing André scrambles onto a bridge over the Seine, intending to leap to his death. He is surprised to see a tall, beautiful girl (Rie Rasmussen) clinging to a rail on the same bridge, apparently preparing to end her life as well. She jumps, and he jumps too, suddenly resolving to save her life. After scrambling ashore, she tells him her name is Angel-A. Together, they take a cruise on the Seine, repay André’s creditors, visit a Parisian nightspot, and more, as Angel-A helps André. He learns that for this purpose she has fallen out of the sky and into his life. André finds himself falling in love with this mysterious beauty…

We enjoyed in particular the atmospheric black and white-photography by cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, who also worked on Besson’s previous films. Autumnal Paris, is beautifully shot with external shots showing well-balanced lighting. Many famous Paris sights make an appearance and one can take it all in, enjoying the sights as well. The lead actors are perfectly cast for their roles and play with verve and gusto. There is a great deal of chemistry between the gangly Angel-A and the ratso André and one can tell that these actors had a great deal of fun while making the movie.

The plot device of angels coming to earth to help humans is not a new one. However, Angel-A is a strange angel, who appears to be quite earthy and not unwilling to gets her hands dirty in order to help her charge. The way that she makes money in order to get André debt-free is quite unangel-like to say the least. There is a lot of clever, funny repartee between André and Angel-A, and no car chases and explosions as one has seen in other Besson films.

The film can be seen as an instruction manual on cognitive therapy, which has a goal to transform distorted thinking. Angel-A is André’s therapist, giving him reasons to love himself, and teaching him techniques to change the way he thinks or speaks of himself. She teaches him to love himself and thus allowing himself to love others too.

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