Angel-A is a black and white movie based on a classic tale. The movie seems surprisingly "Hollywood" in its idealized theme, especially when you consider it's a French movie. Lovers of French film know how popular the themes of darkness and realism are. Still, Besson's skills as a master film maker shine through. The cinematography is fantastic. When you add in great acting, it's easier to swallow the pill of a very allegorical story.
Acting and Direction
The acting really is the hallmark of this movie. Jamel Debbouze was amazing as Andre, the small time hustler with big dreams. He delivers some very difficult scenes with realism and power.
Rie Rasmussen is also great as Angela. In the one DVD special feature, she talks about French not being her native tongue, which makes her dialogue all the more impressive. The director plays her against Andre using the contrasts of her height against his shortness, her beauty against his average looks and shabby clothes.
The supporting cast is also good, no doubt due to Besson's fine direction.
The Story and the Script
This story is hard to swallow. Even though Andre isn't really American, they manage to throw in some anti-American insults too. The script is clean, yet at times forced. Perhaps I am being too cynical. Still, the filmmaker, cast and crew make it work. Even a basic outline almost gives away the very predictable story line, so I won't go there. See it for yourself and be the judge.
For those who love fine art photography or just great film in general, this DVD is a gem. There are so many beautiful shots of Paris. It's done very expertly in black and white. One of the things that comes across in the "making of" feature is how tightly Besson works with his crew of many years.
It also made me wonder, how big was the budget for this film? How much is high-end camera equipment these days? It's just amazing they could produce such a visually amazing movie on an "independent film" budget. If it's true it bodes well for the future.
While there is only the one main "making of" feature, it is loaded with actual production info. Some of it amounts to a worship feature about Besson. No doubt, he's earned it. Still the actors talk about some elements of their preparation and process that are definitely educational and worth seeing. It's a nice extra, but how I greedily wish there was more!
Overall, this is an uplifting and entertaining movie, especially if you can suspend disbelief for 2 hours. The acting, cinematography, and film-making abilities of Besson make this a DVD worth owning for art-film lovers.