What: Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer et courir vite)
Who: Directed by Christophe Honoré, starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Vincent Lacoste and Denis Podalydès
When: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2019; see website for full program
Sorry Angel is a beautiful film: a finely detailed and emotionally delicate portrayal of lust, love and friendship. The story focuses on Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps), an author in his late thirties living in Paris, and Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), a Breton camp counsellor in his early twenties. The two meet by chance and experience an instant attraction. Jacques, surrounded by memories and grappling with an unenviable future, is reluctant to take their romance very far. However, Arthur’s steadfast belief in their ability to make each other happy, as well as their sexual chemistry, keeps their lives entwined. Other stories of different types of love – between former partners, co-parents, or old friends – slowly unfold as the film progresses.
Since this is a story primarily about gay men set in the 1990s, the horror of the AIDS crisis cannot be ignored, and is indeed a theme of the film. Compared to 2017’s BPM (Beats Per Minute), which featured at last year’s French Film Festival, Sorry Angel is less political and more a personal exploration of how living with and around HIV can be by turns heart-wrenching and mundane.
Stylishly shot, with a great soundtrack, and beautifully acted, Sorry Angel is a touching and satisfying cinematic experience. Some might find the film a little slow, or the occasionally abstruse intellectual conversations between the characters tedious. I, however, found myself entranced by the complex and beautifully drawn relationships at its heart.