Writing the Fantasy Film:
Heroes and Journeys in Alternate Realities
by Sable Jak
(In discounted Paperback from Amazon)
In a fit of magical realism, auteur Luc Besson concocts a black and white comedic adventure in implausibility. A French fantasy, if you will. But, if you have the mind set of a healthy heterosexual, you'll willingly forgive it because of the introduction of Rie Rasmussen in the title role, a long-limbed blond vision who goes by the name of Angela (aka, ANGEL-A so as to keep in mind that we're dealing with a heavenly presence -- not just your standard down-to-earth squeezable bimbo.
But first, we meet Andre', a half-wit scammer without the faculty to lie convincingly. That, of course, isn't the worst of his deficiencies. He's not only in debt to several mobsters who know where he lives, he has no idea how to come up with the funds. So, before they can find him when it's apparent his stalling technique has run its course, and that he's run out of options to meet the last deadline and faces being dropped off the Arc d'Triomphe, he figures it's best to beat them to the punch and commit suicide. He'll jump when and where he chooses, thank you.
What he chooses is a bridge. As he stands on a support parapet facing the flowing river under it, another figure catches his eye. There on the next support column is a blond lady, contemplating the same fate. Only she jumps first, and he jumps in to save her. Which he does, and starts the journey with a fetching creature whose mission it is to save him. From himself.
Rassmussen, a Danish born supermodel raised in Southern California and agent-repped in New York, writer-director of two short films, is peppy and loads of fun to be with. But it's not just a matter of her energy level or other endearing virtues. She can't help it if Besson's concept comes off more like a student thesis film than the work of a master.
It might have worked better with another choice for Andre' because Debbouze's sad sack, unfocused loser doesn't generate enough sympathy or interest to make it worth all the celestial dream girl attention. The supposed romantic chemistry between the pair is as desaturated as the color spectrum.
Speaking of which, I can't give the choice to go black and white much credit as some kind of inspiration. My guess is that it was dictated more by budget than aesthetics, especially given the Parisian setting and the probable trade-off for a high cost special effect near the end. Which doesn't put it at a disadvantage necessarily; but it doesn't buy the fantasy a gift of admiration, either.
~~ Jules Brenner