Sorry Angel (2018)

CHRISTOPHE HONORE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Original Title: Plaire, aimer et courir vite

, 2018. , , , , , , , , , . Screenplay by Christophe Honoré. Cinematography by . Produced by , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Two very different men cross paths and have a remarkable effect on each other, one of them coming of age and the other coming to the end of his life. It’s 1993, and handsome near-forty year-old writer Jacques () has gone to Rennes to view a production of one of his plays, and while slipping into a movie theatre showing Jane Campion’s The Piano picks up twenty-two year-old Arthur () after an immediate spark flares up between them.

Sure, they like the look of each other and circle around all the joyful possibilities of sexual congress, but they also delight each other with an instantly easy repartee: Arthur is bright and ambitious and loves expanding his mind with the books he reads, while Jacques loves sharing his knowledge with him without being patronizing about it.

Jacques must go back to Paris where he lives with his young son and face his declining health, he is losing a former partner to AIDS and is not long behind succumbing to the disease himself, and despite keeping up phone calls with Arthur and both promising each to visit the other, he refuses to allow himself the pleasure of turning his bond with Arthur into a real relationship. Making plans for the future is pointless when you don’t have one, but eventually Arthur comes to the City of Lights to pursue his own dreams anyway, and Jacques cannot ignore the fact that he wants to be his friend.

Christophe Honore has made what is likely his best and deepest film yet, a work that taps into the refreshing sex positivity and seemingly improvisational acting that highlight his earlier works, but there’s a grandeur to this one that feels rare for his output. Characters stop to contemplate their lives and their place in the world in scenes that recall the best of Rohmer, there are moments of harsh reserve as often as there are indulgences in unabashed sentimentality and glorious sexuality. The film scores high points in all categories, sympathetic to the young man’s difficult journey in understanding and confirming his sexuality while respecting the older character’s desire to hold on to his dignity until his last breath.

These characters are sexy, glamorous and dynamic but they also earn your affection and your concern, their worlds made fully dimensional by a cast of supporting characters who all shine (the best of them as Jacque’s best friend and neighbour, and as the mother of his child). Both Deladonchamps and Lacoste give lived-in, haunting performances that sell the value of this relationship to us so potently that it’s hard to let them go even when the film forces us to do so in its devastating conclusion.

Cannes Film Festival: In Competition

 

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