Director Luc Besson, famed for "The Professional", big-budget sci-fi flick "The Fifth Element" and for a long line of writing and producing efforts, settles in for a smaller, black and white tale in "Angel-A", which focuses on small time crook André (Jamel Debbouze), who has gotten himself way in over his head. As the movie opens, he's confronted by different criminals, who he all owes a deep debt to - and we get the idea there's probably others in line to get paid back, too.
The police aren't much help (the officer on-duty thinks he's on "Candid Camera"), and when Andre feels like he's got no where else to turn, he decides to jump off a bridge. He looks over to notice a beautiful, impossibly tall blonde woman who is about to do the same, for the same reasons, she says. She jumps first, and jumps in after her, hauling her to shore. The two have a lengthy discussion about the hows and whys of their predicaments, then he asks her to keep out of the water, as saving her would be about the only thing he's ever accomplished. She decides that he's in need of help, and follows him around the city.
Soon enough, Andre finds Angela helping him out of his debts with the local criminals. She also helps him with his self-esteem, which has fallen to an all-time low. The two share a slightly tense relationship - she makes fun of him for not realizing he's been suckered when he's told to put all his money on a horse - but there's also an underlying attraction that forms as the two walk the streets of Paris.
But who is she, really? It's no secret she's an angel (hence the title), but she's certainly an unusual angel - one that looks like a French model and smokes like a chimney. However, the supernatural element of the movie is handled subtly, which works in the film's favor. "Angel-A" is certainly a departure for Besson - instead of the director's usual action and high-intensity style, the picture aims for cool, low-key beauty, thanks to some marvelous locations around Paris and stunning, dream-like B & W 'scope cinematography from ace cinematographer Thierry Arbogast. The two leads also couldn't be more opposite, but both give solid performances and share an enjoyably edgy chemistry. Neither offer a performance that could be called award-winning, but the two of them offer fine performances and the two performances somehow add up to more than both combined.
"Angel-A" has a few slow moments here-and-there, but despite its faults, I thought it was mostly a hypnotic, offbeat little movie - moody and interesting, with fine performances, some charm and a beautiful, touching ending.
VIDEO: "Angel-A" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is an outstanding transfer that preserves the film's classic, elegant cinematography very well. Sharpness and detail remained very pleasing, as definition remained consistently pleasing throughout. While the picture has a slightly soft look, detail didn't seem to suffer.No edge enhancement, artifacting or other concerns were seen, as the presentation looked crisp and clean throughout the running time.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was subdued, with little in the way of surround use. Audio quality was fine, with crisp sound effects, score and dialogue.
EXTRAS: A 26-minute "making of" featurette is included, as are several previews for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Angel-A" has a few slow moments here-and-there, but despite its faults, I thought it was mostly a hypnotic, offbeat little movie - moody and interesting, with fine performances, some charm and a beautiful, touching ending.
The Film B+