Angèle and Tony
With the life of many independently made films hanging precariously on the success of their opening weekend, distributors of the said film have to rely on other methods to achieve financial success. At the UK screening of Angèle and Tony, a fellow film critic stood at the front and was asked to say a few words about the film and the importance of word-of-mouth. Although it may seem slightly unnecessary to listen to someone, completely unrelated to the film, rattle on for three minutes, the message was clear. Takings on the opening weekends of low-budget independent films have to be sufficient and then some, if the film is going to take any form of credibility.
Angèle and Tony is the first major feature film from French director Alix Delaporte and is held together by one of France’s best kept secrets, actress Clotilde Hesme who plays troubled mother, Angèle. After answering a personal ad for a job and lodging at a traditional fisherman village on the coast of Normandy, Angèle moves into the home of Tony (Grégory Gadebois), his reluctant mother Myriam (Evelyne Didi) and rebellious brother Ryan (Jérôme Huguet). As the reasoning behind Angèle’s past is slowly unravelled, she and Tony develop an incredibly poetic, but also strangely obscure relationship. When Tony and his family learn the truth about Angèle’s sudden arrival, her character instantly shows a vulnerable side, which is incredibly refreshing to see. For those who were lucky enough to see Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike) – released late last year – cinematographic style and especially the use of lighting on the characters, are almost identical.
The slender and pretty features of Angèle stand out like a sore thumb around the unpleasant raw stench of fish which coats the harbour and village as invisible smog. Her confident and outright personality is shown as a clash against the timid and drawn-back nature of Tony and as we watch their relationship and tolerance between each other evolve, the classic line of “opposites attract” comes firmly to mind.
This can be called a love story, but it is certainly not a conventional one by any stretch of the imagination. A typical love story would involve the audience sympathising with both protagonists, but with Angèle and Tony, seeing the emotional guard Angèle puts up against almost everyone she comes to meet, one finds it difficult to believe the changes she goes through throughout the course of the film. Angèle does, indeed, rise above the rest of the cast, not because she’s basically on screen throughout, but because her actions cause a reaction in some way or another to the characters around her, making her the prime catalyst for the narrative.
Upon hearing in the talk beforehand that due to the inability to finance a worthwhile nationwide advertising campaign, producers have to rely solely on the people who see it to spread the word around. The timeframe of existence for independent films can be criminally short. Angèle and Tony deserve every good word spoken about the film and let’s hope that there are many more to come.
Watch the trailer for Angèle and Tony here