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My Angel

Two wounded souls explore the fragile poetry of happenstance with diminishing cinematic returns in "My Angel." Tale of a hooker with a heart of gold who's saddled with someone else's literal-minded teen son marks the helming debut of Serge Frydman. Pic has done minimal business since its Jan. 19 debut.

This review was updated on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Two wounded souls explore the fragile poetry of happenstance with diminishing cinematic returns in “My Angel.” Tale of a hooker with a heart of gold who’s saddled with someone else’s literal-minded teen son marks the helming debut of Serge Frydman, who, it would appear, already gave his best material to director Patrice Leconte, for whom he wrote “The Girl on the Bridge” and the prostie-themed “Rue des Plaisirs.” The actors couldn’t be better; the script should have been. Pic has done minimal business since its Jan. 19 debut.

Waif-like Colette (Vanessa Paradis) is plying her trade in an Amsterdam-style storefront by night. The phone rings and a desperate woman caller, freshly sprung from prison, implores Colette to bring her son Billy to a train station the next day.

For reasons never made entirely clear, Colette is determined to get pregnant in the next 48 hours. Retrieving some kid she’s never heard of, for a woman she doesn’t know, throws a wrench into her reproductive timetable. But as fate has singled her out, she makes her way to a pediatric psychiatric ward to sign out Billy (Vincent Rottiers, the feral lad in Christophe Ruggia’s “Les diables”).

When Billy’s mom is killed before they can be reunited, Colette finds herself stuck with the sweet but clueless young man, whose hormones may be moving faster than his brain cells. Together they journey though an amalgam of the Netherlands and Belgium that’s often quite striking to look at but leads nowhere fast.

Paradis, who has yet to give an unresonant perf, taps into reservoirs of feeling to deliver lines that could easily have sounded risible. But even her skill is insufficient to render the premise and execution substantial enough. At first exhilarating, the pic’s baroque urgency soon feels contrived. Any vestiges of a dreamy spell are shattered late on by the ill-advised use of a throaty Tom Waits song.

Many passages have a stand-out visual sweep and, in Marin Karmitz and Claudie Ossard, Frydman was working with two of the best producers in the business. But pic’s failure to jell rests with Frydman’s the screenplay.

My Angel

France - Belgium

  • Production: An MK2 Diffusion release of a Claudie Ossard and Marin Karmitz presentation of a Victoire Prods., MK2 Prods. (France)/Ramy Baron Prods., Banana Films (Belgium) production, with participation of Berfilms, Milly Films, Egmond Film & Television. (International sales: MK2, Paris.) Produced by Claudie Ossard, Marin Karmitz. Directed, written by Serge Frydman.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Vilko Filac; music, Colin Towns; production designer, Pierre-Francois Limbosch; costume designer, Charlotte Betaillole; sound (Dolby), Marc-Antoine Beldent, Jean-Charles Liozu; technical adviser, Christophe Vassort. Reviewed at Elysees Biarritz, Paris, Jan. 22, 2005. Running time: 92 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Vanessa Paradis, Vincent Rottiers, Eduardo Noriega, Claude Perron, Eric Ruf, Thomas Fersen.
  • Music By: