Christopher Honoré’s Sorry Angel (2018) embodies unrequited love at the face of impending mortality. At face value, the film sounds melodramatic, yet the three-dimensional characters on screen such as Jacques and Arthur offer a work full of life worthy of affection.
For instance, the film’s initial protagonist, Jacques, mid-thirty-year-old, is living with H.I.V., is cynical, growing weak, and is uninterested in beginning a new love interest at the result of his dying ex-lover Marco. Jacques’s film counterpart, Arthur, a young twenty-year-old, is coming into his sexuality, slowly breaking ties with his ex-girlfriend, while cruising for men in public spaces. Secondary characters such as Mathieu, a queer elder who is Jacques’s best friend, heightens the focus on intimacy both outside and within sexual desire.
In support of Jacques’s and Arthur’s affinity for one another, despite their clashing personalities and Jacques’s hesitancy for beginning a new relationship as he’s accepts his final days on earth, is Honoré’s cinematic direction. For example, the film’s soundtrack is a clash between 90’s electro-pop from M/A/R/R/S’s “Pump Up the Volume” and Massive Attack’s “One Love,” and romantic ballads such as Astrud Gilberto’s “The Shadow of Your Smile” and Anne Sylvestre’s “Les gens dui doutent.”
Furthermore, Sorry Angel contains scenes that disjoint a viewer’s perception of where characters are geographically, and with whom they are truly sharing a set with. The dissonance adds to the character’s conflicting personalities and intentions with one another, making their attraction to each other the more engaging.
For me, being a first-time viewer of one of Christopher Honoré’s films, I appreciated the fresh attention to queer-film tropes. To be specific, Honoré doesn’t focus on the hardship of coming out, or melancholic dialogue in unrequited love stories, nor does he focus on the death toll by the result of AIDs. Instead, he offers some truths in disappointing sex partners, the reality of anonymous sex, respectful interactions with sex-workers, confessional monologues, abundant literary allusions from Whitman to Rimbaud, and healthy, intimate relationships. I recommend a quiet watching of Sorry Angel whether that be in solitude or with a friend/partner/complicated lover.