Sorry Angel (2018)
Director: Christophe Honoré
Cast: Vincent Lacoste, Pierre Deladonchamps, Denis Podalydès
Plot: Jacques is an older writer from Paris while Arthur is a young student in Rennes. They fall in love, but they'll have to face rejection and sickness to keep it that way.
Genre: Drama / Romance
Awards: Nom. for Palme d'Or (Cannes)
Runtime: 132 mins
Rating: R21 (passed clean) for homosexual content
International Sales: MK2
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
One of the few films that got lost in the shadows of other higher-profile titles competing for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Sorry Angel is deserving of a closer look for two main reasons. First, it could be Christophe Honoré’s finest work to date in what has been an uneven career. Second, it appears to follow the trajectory of the typical LGBT film, but somehow its intelligent treatment and personable characters take this excellent work to another level. Despite its slightly long runtime, I find this to be surprisingly engaging and refreshing to watch, and this is really a testament to the sharp, well-tuned script as well as the filmmaker’s love for his characters, which translates into emotions that we as audiences can feel and empathise.
Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps of Stranger by the Lake, 2013) is a writer from Paris, probably in his late thirties or early forties, whose ex-wife and child has left him (though they are on friendly terms). Lonely and facing a medical diagnosis that doesn’t give him any hope of leading a long life, he strikes up a casual relationship with a younger man in his twenties named Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), who’s a student from Rennes. They become infatuated with each other and desire for each other’s company, not to mention engaging in a number of sexual encounters that are depicted with warmth and quiet intimacy.
Honoré’s approach doesn’t titillate, though some might find it sensual. However, it is the filmmaker’s assured handling of the tender if vulnerable connection between Jacques and Artur that keeps Sorry Angel engaging and gives the work its sensitivity. There’s a plethora of supporting characters—friends of Jacques and Arthur respectively—that makes the film more realistic, particularly when raw and honest sentiments are shared privately.
Some have compared Sorry Angel with another recent French LGBT film, BPM (Beats Per Minute) and noting their complementary qualities. The Wrap’s Ben Croll calls Honoré’s film “the yin to the yang of [2017’s] Cannes Grand Prize winner”. Heartfelt but with a clear lack of sentimentality to wallow in, Sorry Angel finds maturity in its sincere performances all-round, and is one of the underrated works of queer cinema to emerge this year.
Verdict: A measured work about two Frenchmen (one much older) wanting to find love in each other, but the sharp and intelligent script overcomes any niggling clichés to give us a warm and dignified film.