Stork-like supermodel Rie Rasmussen and short, scruffy Jamel Debbouze look like Mutt and Jeff in Paris in Luc Besson’s saccharine fable. Angela (Rasmussen) is an altruistic mysterious stranger in a skimpy black dress, André (Debbouze) a timid, good-hearted deadbeat at the end of his rope. Together on deserted, searingly photographed streets they enact one long cliché about learning to love yourself and face the world.
The film’s black-and-white cinematography is far more engaging than the pair’s cutesy sparring or the life lessons Angela dispenses in between dispatching André’s low-life creditors. With her supernatural savoir-faire and Simon-says compliance, it’s a bit like Weird Science on the Seine, but the main special effect is Debbouze’s puppy eyes.
Besson, blockbuster material in Europe but famed here mainly for La Femme Nikita, the bonkers Fifth Element, and Transporter screenwriting, sometimes claims Angel-A is his last film. It has a Capraesque valedictory glow and an insistently pure simplicity, but it’s also broad and belabored in the distinctive manner of an imported buddy movie.