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Angel-A

Year: 2005
Production Co: Europa Corp
Director: Luc Besson
Producer: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Cast: Rie Rasmussen, Jamel Debbouze
Luc Besson is a lot like a more commercial (and French) Gus van Sant. You just never know what he's going to do next, but where van Sant is going to feature disaffected or lost youth in some way, Besson is going to use a lissome female character, usually a model.

Andre is a small time hood and not a very likeable guy. In debt up to his eyeballs to a mob boss and with only hours to go before they start extracting payment in the form of broken bones, he prepares to jump off a bridge into the Seine.

Spying a tall, beautiful woman about to do the same, Andre calls to her, but she plunges off anyway, prompting him to hurl himself off to rescue her.

The enigmatic Angel talks in riddles, doesn't make sense and affects Andre immediately, deciding to latch onto him to turn his life around by making him see the value in himself.

Earlier than you expect, Angel reveals to Andre that she is an actual angel, selected to come to earth to help him learn to love himself and get his life in order. She has no knowledge why it's her, or why it's him, just that it's her job.

Against his better, more cynical judgement, Andre starts to turn, falling more under Angel's spell in some sequences of genuine beauty, such as one where she's encouraging him to look in a mirror and say he loves himself, Angel fading from view.

The premise is a good idea in itself, but when he starts declaring he's in love with her and making her doubt her mission and sad for the human past she doesn't remember, it dilutes the strength of the character and doesn't do the movie any favours.

The sci fi-like final sequence of Angel growing her wings back and trying to leave Earth with Andre holding onto her feels silly and out of place too, and should have been handled with a little more finesse.

Debbouze as Andre is a little irritating, but Rasmussen as Angel has a strange blend of supermodel cool and wide-eyed, childlike wonder that makes her very endearing. Some stumbles, and not terribly original, but nice all the same.

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