Angel-A (UK - BD RB)
Reviewer Marcu-S takes a looks at Luc Besson's film Angel-A on Blu-ray Disc...
Andre (Jamel Debbouze) is in a bit of trouble. He owes everyone money that he can’t possibly pay back and his now life is being threatened. With the pressures of his life getting on top of him, Andre makes the snap decision that the only way out of all this is to jump into the river. Climbing out on the ledge and looking down at the Parisian water Andre says his goodbyes and questions why God has never helped him with his troubles.
As Andre is about to make his leap, he notices a woman further down the ledge seemingly in the same turmoil as him. The six foot blonde makes the leap and Andre jumps in to rescue her from drowning. After the save, the mysterious woman introduces herself as Angela (Jamel Debbouze) and pledges her life to Andre. Andre reluctantly accepts and so begins the journey of sorting out Andre’s problems and indeed his life.
Angel-A is a movie that delves into a story that’s been told a million times before one way or another. The ‘guardian angel sent to help you out’ set up that offers the main character the means to turn their failing life around and make good and Angel-A, remaining true to form has its very own guardian angel who’s a bit quirky. Angela is basically a six foot blonde model, with a tiny dress, long legs, smoking like a chimney and loaded with the ‘fuck it’ attitude. She shows Andre the confidence he too can have and gives him insight into how he should be more truthful. It’s all pretty generic stuff that comes with this sort of storytelling, but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it as it unravelled.
Told in black and white and with some beautiful shots of Paris, Luc Besson leads his characters around nightclubs and Paris streets with quite a carefree style. His two main characters butt heads on their outlooks and together go about haphazardly sorting out many of Andre’s problems. Just as I was getting little tired of this age old set up, I was hit with some great examples of why these stories have worked so well for so long. For starters when Angela reveals her true origins (which wasn’t too hard to guess anyway) the story suddenly gains more weight and when she begins to make Andre feel better about himself—in a simple yet very effective scene where she asks him simply to say that he loves himself while staring at his reflection in a mirror—I suddenly realized that I was invested in this character and that I really do have an affection for these sorts of things.
Anyway, coming to its big finale, Angel-A steps out of being a very nice black and white artsy affair and throws in some special effects all of which look great and add a climatic feel to the closing of events. I won’t spoil it, but Luc Besson really shows off his flair for nifty visuals.
Despite looking pretty with its black and white stylings, I have to say that Angel-A wasn’t all that impressive to look at from a high definition perspective. Yes, the black levels are strong and it has a glow to it that only HD can provide, but looking closer there just wasn’t enough going on in the detail department to say that this was a striking transfer.
Skin textures are hinted at, but in scenes where we’re growing ever more used to the tiny details being shown off things seemed a bit underwhelming. Beads of water tricking down Angela’s neck after she’s pulled out of the river are there, but hardly visible, and the bristles of Andres beard never really captured the HD possibilities and generally nothing really screamed HD to me. All that said, the transfer is a pleasant one to look at and is almost totally devoid of grain, giving a clean look to everything but compared to a handful of other black and white HD movies I’ve seen, Angel-A felt a little lacking.
With the fast paced French dialogue living in the front speakers, the rears are left solely for the odd subtle atmospheric, though there is a wonderfully well represented thunder clap about two thirds of the way through the movie.
The soundtrack is quite effective and fills the 5.1 systems nicely but overall this is a fairly laid back affair that does its job and not much beyond it.
The making of (26:50 SD) is a kinetic enjoyable look at the stars and the project itself without going into too much detail. This sits snugly with 'The Making of the Music' (13:53 SD), which takes a brief look at Anja Garbarek’s fine work on the enjoyable soundtrack to the movie.
Lastly we get a music video from Garbarek (03:28 SD) and the Theatrical Trailer (01:47 SD), so all in all not too much in the way of features.
Angel-A does a thoroughly good job at being quite typical. The characters are okay but not really that exceptional, the story has been told many times before and even the slight twist in the tale doesn’t feel that fresh. However, I still found it be entertaining enough and enjoyed many of its fair share of quirks.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 14th September 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French, LPCM 2.0 Stereo French
Extras: Making of Featurette, Making of the Music, Music Video, Theatrical Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen
Genre: Drama, Fantasy and Romance
Length: 90 minutes