“Sorry Angel”: Star-Crossed Lovers Meet in a Gay French Romance

Unusual, offbeat, but often right on the money about gay romance in the ‘90s, Sorry Angel could be a love story or an anti-love story (if there is truly such a thing). It’s been compared to Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, another up-close and honest look at a gay relationship whose validity is not based on whether or not it endures.

Writer and director Christophe Honoré tells the story of Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps, star of 2013’s Hitchcockian erotic gay thriller Stranger by the Lake), a once noteworthy novelist now slipping into obsolescence and living with HIV. In a charming chance encounter, he meets Arthur (Vincent Lacoste) and soon the younger man is drawn to the experience and maturity of Jacques, just as Jacques is quickened by the buoyant energies and enthusiasm of his new lover.

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But the two men are at different ends of life, and while Arthur yearns for passion, artistic community, and vibrant Parisian life, Jacques has started to want to leave these things behind. The mixture of pitch real-life, happy moments – including a giggling threesome – with well-choreographed sequences like one at an outdoor cruising spot (possibly the film’s best scene) belie a melancholic undertone.

The film’s original French title Plaire, Simer et Courir Vite translates roughly to Pleasure, Love and Run Fast, which suggests something of the fleeting qualities of love and even life itself. The film is both very ‘90s and extremely French: palpable in story, dialogue, and number of cigarettes smoked. Honore’s eschewing of most exposition means audiences have to come to certain conclusions on their own, wait patiently for clarity and sometimes accept obscurity. The Word: Ultimately the story’s arc rings true, but more true are the moments of love and tenderness that fill it.  Coming to: Theaters

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Jonathan Roche

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