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A moralistic tale about a man, Andre, who gets a second chance in life when he meets Angela, a tall, femme fatale whom he saves from a suicide bid in the Seine River. The two spend a memorable summer night in nearly deserted Paris where Angela exposes herself as a true angel, sent down to save Andre from himself.
For more about Angel-A and the Angel-A Blu-ray release, see Angel-A Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 12, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen, Gilbert Melki
» See full cast & crew
Angel-A Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 12, 2009
Luc Besson's "Angel-A" (2005) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. Most unfortunately, the Blu-ray transfer suffers from a number of issues that are near impossible to tolerate. Amongst the special features on the disc are a music video, two Making of featurettes and more. With optional English subtitles. Region-B "locked".
Jamel Debbouze (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) plays André, a small-time criminal who lives in Paris and has less than twenty four hours to repay some old debts. If he does not, some very bad people would do some very bad things to him. André quickly attempts to get help from the American embassy - because he is a "green card" holder - and then turns himself in at a local police department - because he is an Arab who must have done something bad to get him behind bars - but is unceremoniously thrown back on the streets. Depressed and terrified, he heads to a bridge to commit suicide.
Right before he jumps off, André sees a beautiful woman (Rie Rasmussen, Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale) - she jumps and so does he. André saves her life and she immediately vows to help him with his debts. At first he does not believe her, but after a few quick stunts, he changes his mind. The two become friends and eventually fall in love. But the woman has a secret – one that would hurt André enormously.
Viewers familiar with Vim Wenders' Wings of Desire and Patrice Leconte's La fille sur le pont won't be surprised with Besson's Angel-A. Sans a few attractive character updates, the film basically borrows the best from the stories the two films tell. Debbouze adds an extra dose of humor as well, and, voila, you have Angel-A.
Still, Angel-A is an enjoyable ride. Debbouze and Rasmussen are an odd but likable couple whose lines are never dull. In front of the camera the two look natural, even though occasionally the script demands otherwise.
Besson's preference for loud and flashy action has not affected Angel-A. On the contrary, this is mostly a dialog-driven film whose most effective parts are the ones where the camera stands still.
Shot in black and white, Angel-A looks solid from start to finish. Cinematographer Thierry Arbogast - who collaborated with Besson on his Nikita, Léon, The Fifth Element, and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and during the years has also assisted such renowned directors as Patrice Leconte (Ridicule), Emir Kusturica (Black Cat, White Cat), Jean-Paul Rappeneau (Le hussard sur le toit), and Andre Techine (J'embrasse pas) - captures the timeless allure of the City of Lights in an incredibly convincing fashion. The panoramic vistas with the River Saine, in particular, are breathtakingly beautiful. The film also benefits from a lovely soundtrack courtesy of Anja Garbarek, daughter of jazz icon Jan Garbarek.
All the sensational talk that followed up the French premiere of Angel-A - specifically, how this was the film that supposedly gave Besson back what he had lost after Subway - was inspired by smart PR agents who knew how to create a good buzz. For the record, after Angel-A, Besson went back to writing, producing and directing impressively disappointing projects.
Angel-A Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.34:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Luc Besson's Angel-A arrives on Blu--ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
I have to say that this is a disappointing high-definition transfer. There are certain portions of the film that are tolerable, but the rest certainly isn't up to the standards we have come to expect from the British distributors. The key issue here is that Angel-A has undergone serious filtering. As a result, detail is often missing, especially during many of the panoramic shots from Paris. Furthermore, edge-enhancement is very prominent, and I suspect that many of you who have larger that 50' screens would be annoyed by it. The color-scheme also suffers substantially - the otherwise deep blacks tend to look smeared and unfocused; the whites are slightly less problematic.
I also noticed some mild contrast boosting. Once again, there are portions of the film where the contrast boosting isn't too distracting, but elsewhere it is most definitely an issue of concern. On a positive side, the transfer is healthy - there are no large debris, scratches, or dirt that I detected. Still, I cannot help but think that Angel-A is very much a missed opportunity.
Note: This is a Region-B "locked" disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content.
Angel-A Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French LPCM 2.0. I opted for the French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and later on did a few random comparisons with the French LPCM 2.0 track for the purpose of this review.
Unlike the video treatment, the audio treatment is solid. The French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is rich and potent. The bass, though not too prominent, is certainly very effective. The rear channels are intelligently used as well, while the high frequencies are not distorted. The dialog is crisp, clear and very easy to follow. Anja Garbarek's score also sounds lovely. Finally, there are absolutely no pops, cracks, or hissings that I detected.
The French LPCM 2.0 track is rather good. During most of the action scenes it is not as effective as the French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, but its decent range of dynamics are pleasing. Still, there is no reason not to opt for the French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Please note that Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
Angel-A Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this disc are in PAL. Therefore, if you reside in North America, or another region where PAL is not supported, you must have a Region-Free player capable of converting PAL to NTSC, or a TV set capable of receiving native PAL data, in order to view them.
The Making of Angel-A - Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen discuss how they become involved with the film, their initial impressions of its script, director Besson, the type of preparations that were done before shooting began, etc. In English and French (subtitled in English). (27 min).
The Making of the Music - raw footage from the recording sessions for the soundtrack where director Besson, and cast crew members are seen communicating with Anja Garbarek. In English and French (strangely enough, portions of the French dialog are not subtitled in English). (14 min).
Music Video - (4 min).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for Angel-A with imposed English subtitles. (2 min).
Angel-A Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It is rather unfortunate that Angel-A did not get a stronger Blu-ray treatment, as I doubt Sony Pictures would release the film in North America any time soon. However, if I am proven wrong, and they do indeed release it, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that their Blu-ray transfer will be superior. For the time being, I must recommend that you avoid adding Angel-A to your collections.
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