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Rie Rasmussen • Jamel Debbouze
DIRECTOR: Luc Besson

Set in Paris and filmed in black and white, the movie spotlights André (Debbouze), a petty criminal who is in debt to a local gangster. Deciding to throw himself into the river Seine, André’s plan is thwarted when a young woman named Angela (Rasmussen) jumps in before him and André saves her life. The two form a bond and venture into the streets of Paris determined to get André out of the hole he has found himself in.

U.S. RELEASE: May 25 2007, Limited • Rated: R


“After all these years, I had a burning desire to film the wonders of Paris, which has witnessed, over 40 years now, all my sorrows and joys.”

“I didn’t speak French before this movie, not at all. I knew merci beaucoup with a really bad accent, but Luc gave me the script in English and it was really fantastic, about love and acceptance of yourself and how you can accept the love of others, and once I said yes, he told said, ‘Good, because now it’s in French.’ I said, ‘I guess I’m moving to Paris tomorrow,’ and I did.”

“The weird thing is that, at times, Luc shot the film like it was a no-budget short – seven or eight of us in a van driving around Paris, him with the camera on his shoulder, until we found a spot he liked. Then we’d pile out and shoot the scenes. I really believe that, with this film, he rediscovered the buzz of when he started out.”

“There were some shots in the film that were not authorized at all. That’s a good thing about being popular. A few times the cops arrived and I just smiled and said, ‘Hey, it’s me.’ ‘Oh, Mr Besson, can we take a picture?’ The cops are sweet in France.”

“Jamel is a huge star in France and Morocco. I had no idea who he was. I hadn’t seen him in Amelie at the time. Normally, he writes his own dialogue because he’s a standup comedian. He’s a great dramatic actor too, but he just doesn’t know it. It was a really scary challenge for him. I don’t think he really wanted to (do it) but he wanted to work with Besson.”

“I did two things I don’t usually do [on the first day of filming]. First, I arrived on time, at 5 a.m. on the dot, not just because I wanted to impress [Luc] but also because I didn’t have much choice. It was vital to know your lines inside-and-out to avoid wasting any time and to fit in with Luc’s precision. But, above all, I placed my trust in him, which is very rare. People have so often taken me for a ride, or made promises they never keep, that I’m often on the defensive. But Luc seemed so sure of what he was doing. I gave him my trust.”

“I filmed it in black and white because yin and yang, tall and short, introverted extroverted, blonde brown, the good the bad, the black the white, everything is in opposition in the film. And I needed the film to have this little poetry. Is it real? Is it a dream? Is it a fairy tale? So I have it in black and white.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Film Review, #684, Summer 2007 cover

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