A two-hour-plus romantic drama set in and around Paris in 1993 against the backdrop of Act Up and the AIDS crisis, Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel immediately calls to mind Robin Campillo’s recent, and excellent, epic 120 BPM. It’s not a comparison that flatters Honoré’s film though, messy and uneven as it is, unable to decide on a level of seriousness and not earning its more sombre moments or lengthy runtime.
In theory, Sorry Angel centres on the romance between 40-ish Parisian writer Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps) and 22-year-old small-town student Arthur (Vincent Lacoste). Yet they spend very little of the film’s 135 minutes actually together, and though their first “date” is very charming and funny, leisurely and giddy all in one, this separation means the later moments of heartfelt longing don’t ring true.
Honoré’s script contains some great individual moments, earning gentle laughs and occasional pathos, but can’t keep this quality up consistently. Some exposition is hilariously wooden, and the film feels far more comfortable tracking Arthur’s easygoing life than the more complicated relationships and responsibilities faced by Jacques.
Both Lacoste and Deladonchamps are compelling in the roles (though each is outshone by Denis Podalydes as Jacques’s exasperated but caring neighbour Mathieu), and their chemistry is palpable, but they’re not given enough to do.
Sex scenes have an odd formality to them, a world away from the electric celebrations of love and life in 120 BPM, slowing the pace of the film down rather than adding any urgency or vibrancy.
Too slight and breezy to fill out its epic ambitions but too heavy to be a fun rom-com, Sorry Angel ends up caught between two worlds, failing to really do justice to either. Perfectly curated ‘90s pop soundtrack aside, it will fade from your memory quickly after leaving the cinema.
CAST: Vincent Lacoste, Pierre Deladonchamps, Denis Podalydès
DIRECTOR: Christophe Honoré
WRITERS: Christophe Honoré
SYNOPSIS: Jacques is an older writer from Paris. Arthur is a young student in Rennes. They instantly fall in love. But the complications of life and illness get in the way.