Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 6th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: France, December 21st, 2005
Director: Luc Besson
Writers: Luc Besson, Pierre Jolivet, Alain Le Henry, Marc Perrier, Sophie Schmit
Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen, Gilbert Melki, Serge Riaboukine
BluRay released: September 14th, 2009
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS HD 5.1 French, Dolby Digital Stereo French
BluRay Release: Optimum Releasing
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £24.99
Synopsis: A conman named André runs out of options and has become desperate. With the weight of his mounting debt on his shoulders André decides to kill himself, by jumping off a bridge. His suicide attempt is foiled when at that very moment on the same bridge there also happens to a woman who is planning on also jumping from the bridge. When the woman jumps and nearly drowns, André jumps in after her and saves her life. From this moment onward this young woman whose name is Angela forms a bond with André, who she tries to help him put his life back in order.
There was a time when it appeared that director Luc Besson could do no wrong after the successes of La Femme Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element. That was until his 1999 film about Joan of Arc titled “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” didn’t achieve the success of his three previous films. After directing The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Luc Besson would shift his attention to writing screenplays and producing films like Kiss of the Dragon, Wasabi, The Transporter, Danny the Dog and Revolver. In 2005 after a six year absence from directing he would return to directing with the film Angel-A.
The plot takes no time setting up who everyone is and what their objectives are. This film’s main character is André a man who often overreaches with his lofty dreams which end up putting him in bad situations. To make matters worse for this character he lacks any confidence which only further leads to him being manipulated by those he comes in contact with. The other key character in this story is a young woman named Angela whose own past is just as mysterious as to why she was on the same bridge as André as he contemplated suicide. As the plot evolve it does reveal more about her ability to know personal things about André that not just anyone should know and exactly why she enter André’s life when she did. Along the way before some of these questions are asked we get to see Andre gain confidence as Angela guides him through his turbulent life. Without a doubt this film’s most endearing asset is the interaction between the André and Angela characters.
Visually the film is filled with many picturesque moments, many of which also relay information about who Angela is and what he objective is in this story. There are a few standout moments in the film with the most memorable being a nightclub scene where Angela gets some of the money that André needs by having sex with as many men who are willing in the bathroom of the club. Later on in the film this scene is put into proper context when André confronts Angela about her sexual encounters throughout the film. What happened or what really happened in this scene like much of what has happened in the film is left up one’s own interpretation.
All around the entire cast are superb in their respective roles with the films standout performance coming from Jamel Debbouze in the role of André. Not to be overlooked is Rie Rasmussen’s mesmerizing performance as Angela whose slender tall frame towers above the diminutive André. The deliberate contrast in their sizes further enforces the juxtaposition’s present in several key compositions that appear in the film. The film also features a remarkable score from Anja Garbarek. This also marks the first time that director Luc Besson has not worked composer Eric Serra who had previously composed the scores for all the films that he had previously directed. While on the surface it may appear that Angel-A is unlike anything Luc Besson has done before. Many of the themes present within Angel-A, are themes that he has explored throughout the majority of his career. Ultimately Angel-A is an extraordinary film that poetically examines the human condition.
Angel-A comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Contrast fares well and black levels are solid throughout. Details look equally crisp in foreground and background, grain while present it is ever so subtle in texture and edge enhancement is kept in check.
This release comes with two audio mixes DTS HD 5.1 French and Dolby Digital Stereo French. Removable English subtitles have been provided. Both audio mixes are in great shape with the bulk of the action coming from the front speakers, while the rear speakers are primary used for the film’s more ambient sounds. The DTS HD 5.1 French is the more dynamic and satisfying of the two audio mixes.
Extras include a trailer for the film (1 minute 47 seconds – Anamorphic Widescreen – in French with English subtitles), a music video for one of composer Anja Garbarek’s song’s from the film, a segment titled “The Making of the Music” (13 minute 53 seconds – Anamorphic Widescreen – in French with English subtitles) and a making of documentary (26 minute 50 seconds – Anamorphic Widescreen – in French with English subtitles). The making of documentary is mostly made up behind the scenes footage and it also includes comments from Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen. The “The Making of the Music” is nothing more filler with clips of musicians performing and composer Anja Garbarek in the studio. All of the extras are presented in a standard definition PAL. Overall Angel-A gets a solid BluRay release from Optimum Releasing.