During the opening act of French filmmaker Christophe Honoré’s latest feature, Sorry Angel, we see middle-aged author with a love of the arts Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps) enter a small arthouse cinema, unlit cigarette in hand, while on a work trip to Brittany. It’s here that he meets Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), a 22-year-old student who indulges in a decadent lifestyle. After falling in love, the pair are forced to confront Jacques’s losing battle with AIDS in order to hold their relationship together in what is a deeply moving reflection of love, life and loss.
Taking place in Paris in the early 1990s, while the film is primarily a romantic drama revolving around two gay men (one of whom is a single father) struggling with various aspects of their lives, it also acts as a heartfelt exploration of the AIDS crisis which shook gay communities during this time. However, the director doesn’t put these themes directly in the spotlight, but rather smartly keeps them as a backdrop where they can better add to the overall impact without intruding on the central plot.
Being a romance, a large part of the picture’s success relies on the chemistry of the two leads. Thankfully both Deladonchamps and Lacoste are exquisite together. Whenever they share the frame they demonstrate a rapport that feels completely natural; they act like a lovesick couple in a fashion that doesn’t feel forced, which is incredibly refreshing to see. Their individual performances, too – much like the rest of the cast – are equally great, especially Deladonchamps, who delivers some difficult scenes.
Given their chemistry, it’s disappointing then that we don’t spend enough time with them insofar as it acts as a detriment to the feature. Viewers are supposed to become fully invested in their struggles, but by focusing more on extraneous details their relationship often seems like an afterthought. Although it does culminate in a heart-wrenching climax, the effect would have been greater if the picture was at least 20 minutes shorter.
Complete with a joyous soundtrack, Sorry Angel is a stylish and emotionally mature movie that’s centred on two equally well-written and even better-acted protagonists. It’s a work that’s full of life and heartache, one unafraid to tackle difficult matters. However, it also gets lost within itself far too often to the extent that, at times, it weighs down an otherwise outstanding film into tedium.
Sorry Angel is released in select cinemas on 22nd March 2019.
Watch the trailer for Sorry Angel here: