Sorry Angel


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Sorry Angel. Christophe Honoré: 'To be honest the characters of Arthur and Jacques I see as myself at different stages in my life. It might seem narcissistic to have a character at 40 who falls in love with himself (me) at 20 but it wasn’t intended to be'
"Honoré handles the strands with considerable agility and admirable lack of cliché or sentimentality employing camerawork that is clean and uncluttered." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Probably one of French director Christophe Honoré’s most personal forays into the world of love and friendship in the shadow of our own mortality, Sorry Angel packs a sinewy punch as he examines gay male interactions and the consequences as well as the pleasures of sexual freedoms.

Taking place in 1993 between Paris and Rennes (Honoré is from the Brittany capital) the film has points in common with Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute - there is even a reference to an Act Up meeting on the agenda.

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The two men at the heart of the narrative are poles apart on the surface. Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps from Stranger in the Lake) is a 35-year-old writer who has AIDS and living in Paris with close friend and neighbour Mathieu (Denis Podalydes). Vincent Lacoste, with all the eagerness of an energetic puppy, plays Arthur, a 22-year-old student from Rennes exploring his sexuality with both his girlfriend Nadine (Adele Wishes) as well as succession of partners he discovers at gay cruising spots.

They meet when Jacques turns up in Rennes to supervise the production of a new play. To chill out, he goes to a local cinema to watch Jane Campion’s The Piano and he spots Arthur, who eagerly reciprocates his attentions.

The arrange tentatively to meet up later - the start of a relationship that unfurls in a stop-start fashion as each becomes aware of the other’s foibles - the older man flattered by the attentions from his younger cohort before the register ramps up to the realisation that this will be a fleeting moment for both of them.

Eventually Arthur goes to see Jacques in Paris where he shares the care of his 12-year-old son Loulou (Tristan Farge) with his mother (played by Sophie Letourneur). The young man becomes aware of the seriousness of the writer’s illness and its physical limitations as well as his wider world. The gulf between their lives - one is just at the start of his journey while the other is preparing for the end - becomes poignantly apparent.

Honoré handles the strands with considerable agility and admirable lack of cliché or sentimentality employing camerawork that is clean and uncluttered. Despite the seriousness of the emotions and situations explored, there is a lightness of touch that saves it from too much brooding introspection.

It is all wrapped up in long-running conversations, a soundtrack of Gallic pop and cigarette smoke. The scenes of love making are realistically portrayed without being graphic.

For Honoré, the film marks a mature moment in his career where many of the themes and concerns of his previous work crystallise and coalesce in a heady mix.

Reviewed on: 11 May 2018
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Two gay men struggle with love in the shadow of mortality.
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Director: Christophe Honore

Writer: Christophe Honore

Starring: Pierre Deladonchamps, Vincent Lacoste, Denis Podalydès

Year: 2018

Runtime: 132 minutes

Country: France

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