ANGEL-A (2005, France, Luc Besson)
My name’s Angela. I fell out of the sky.
He’s charming in a Euro-schlumpy sort of way, but he talks too much (and lies a lot), and now he’s talked himself into bad trouble with some really bad guys. There’s no way to raise their 30K before they toss him in the river, so he decides to save himself a beating and them the trouble. Poised on the edge of a picturesque Paris bridge, our hero notices an impossibly tall, impossibly gorgeous (apart from the tears and runny mascara marring her impossibly high-cheekboned face) blonde in an impossibly tiny black micro-dress, one pylon down. Once she’s taken care of the mascara problem by flinging herself into the river and having him rescue her, it becomes apparent the whole thing was a set-up: she’s not only figuratively but literally an angel, sent Clarence-like to save him from himself.
Early on it’s a kick: there’s a quirky comic chemistry between the statuesque babe in the little black dress and the charming schlump with the motor mouth. For a while the movie is content to look great and get its kicks riffing on angel movies like WINGS OF DESIRE and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, not taking itself too seriously. But as things progress it tries to dig deeper and... Well, there’s just no depth there to dig. The gospel of this wannabe-spiritual effort is some embarrassingly juvenile “love yourself” psycho-babble folded into a seriously creepy over-ripe romanticism that’s all about rescuing, worshipping and lusting after sexy, fallen angel-whores.
Luc Besson (definitely not to be mistaken for fellow French filmer Robert Bresson) wants desperately to make spiritual films, but this one makes it clear that he’s seriously confused. If, like me, you think this sleek, chic black and white fashion video might be a lot of fun – at least a guilty pleasure – be warned: it’s all eye-candy, zero soul food. The gorgeous angel gets the schlemiel off the hook by schlepping the gangster who’s after him – yech – and drums up the money he needs to pay off the other thugs by having ten or twenty guys pay her a thousand Euro a pop to have sex with her in the bathroom of a club – serious yech. And while the beneficiary may express qualms about her tactics – he’s falling in love with her, after all – the angel doesn’t seem to mind, I’m quite sure Besson doesn’t really mind, and he invites us to figure it’s No Big Deal. I figure it’s repulsive.
A shame about the whole whore thing. Apart from that, this could have had a kinda-dumb-but-cute likeability. No such luck.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE MESSENGER
PS I love this post from an IMDb user...
There is, it seemed to me, a big effort to make his film deep considering the discourse. It can be perceptible through the plenty of plays with symbols that are contained in it. The main problem is that by writing such dialogs, certain scenes seem too artificial and often too long. This has to be added to the fact that if you see the film in french, you"ll quickly notice that the dialogs that often concern both J Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen are more than sometimes incomprehensible and require a permanent attention to decipher them."More than sometimes incomprehensible" indeed...