Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer et Courir Vite)
Set in the early 1990s, Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel is a wordy, consciously literary AIDS drama – an almost bitter, atomised counterpart to Robin Campillo’s Jury Prize-winning 120 BPM. Forgiving the extended philosophising and soliloquies, this is a well-judged and affecting film with two excellent performances at its centre. Pierre Deladonchamps is the prematurely aged tragic author and Vincent Lacoste the too-clever-for-his-own-good ingénue.
Jacques offers the jaded perspective one expects from a self-loathing writer, while Arthur – an upstart with literary tastes and business acumen – sees only opportunity and adventure. It looks as if Jacques can facilitate these dreams yet he’s always just out of reach. He is enigmatic, desperate and proud to the point of self-destruction.
Both have large sexual appetites, these met by an impressive array of men. Both seek emotional solace in people they often exploit and deny: Jacques in his flat-mate Mathieu (Jacques Denis Podalydes), Arthur in his ex-girlfriend Nadine (Adèle Wismes). Theirs is clearly a love story, one invigorated by distance, age and outlook. This risks being trite, but Honoré wisely pulls back from excessive sentiment and hits hard when agony prevails.
For a film so focused on its characters, the historical markers are cleverly woven in. It’s 1993: Isabelle Huppert plays Orlando, The Piano is in cinemas and ACT UP are organising meetings all over Paris. To show an example of the AIDS crisis aside from the explicit political action is a haunting move. A possible community is lost, the support neglected. This would be Jacques’s choice, because a man of the arts is a man apparently hostile to organised activity.
Deterioration is expected. It hangs over like a pall. Jacques wishes something swift. Romance, proper romance, is too easy and too difficult near the end. As Arthur grows in confidence and loquaciousness, we see a baton being passed. He has done his recommended reading. Witty music selections define Jacques’s living, and he leaves us one slightly on the nose. But it’s on his terms. Like that painting in the Pompidou, his is a life unfinished, but unlike Picasso’s Napoleon, he is at least dressed as himself.
Sorry, Angel does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer et Courir Vite) here: