2005, Movie, R, 88 mins


There's less to Luc Besson's sexed-up riff on WINGS OF DESIRE (1987) than meets the eye, but to be fair, what meets the eye is ravishing.

Incompetent con man Andre (stand-up comedian Jamel Debbouze, who bears a striking resemblance to actor Luis Guzman) is in a bad way: He's borrowed money from just about every thug in Paris — including the seriously scary Mr. Franck (Gilbert Melki) and the superficially more genial but equally dangerous Pedro (Serge Riaboukine) — and doesn't have a euro to his name. After being roughed up by tattooed leg-breakers, dangled off the Eiffel Tower, and thrown out of both the American Embassy — his plea for help on the grounds that he's a resident alien fall on deaf ears — and a police station, Andre decides to end it all. But first he rescues the stunning, 6-foot blonde (Rie Rasmussen) who has the same idea, hauling her out of the Seine and then railing at the capricious fate that won't even let him commit suicide in peace. But Andre's luck has changed — he just doesn't know it yet. Angela, the blonde in the sky-high heels and extra-little black dress, isn’t just a sight for sore eyes: She's an honest-to-God angel charged with getting his life back on track. Some guys have all the luck.

Thierry Arbogast's silky black-and-white cinematography makes everything look scrumptious, from the madly pulsating lights threaded through the Eiffel Tower's girders to the stunning Rasmussen, whose legs could conquer the world. But Besson's sniggering conception of Angela as a pure spirit in the body of a high-end hooker is just juvenile, and Andre is, frankly, a drag. One minute he's whining about needing money, the next he's castigating Angela for getting him some by turning tricks in a nightclub bathroom. There's always been a wide streak of the tediously naughty little boy in Besson, and all the seductively stylized images in the world can't hide it. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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