It’s 1993. Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a writer battling AIDS and coming to grips with his impending doom. He still lives with his child and has his friend Matthieu (Denis Podalydes) as a form of support. However, he develops a slight new outlook on life when he meets the youthful Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), a student and camp counselor. Once they fall in love, complications begin to emerge. Meanwhile, Arthur slowly discovers his own perspective on sexual activity.
When Jacques and Arthur first meet, it is at a screening of The Piano. They immediately become smitten with each other and after a nighttime stroll and a passionate kiss, they end up in a whirlwind romance of fiesty passion and gut-wrenching tragedy. Also, the two actors playing them have intoxicating chemistry. Much like the main couples in Call Me by Your Name and Weekend, there is a bit of a push and pull between them. As one tries to get closer, the other backs away before they start to cave in on their desires. However, the circumstances involving their push and pull are of course, quite dire.
After starring in the homoerotic thriller Stranger by the Lake, Pierre Deladonchamps creates another complex portrait of a queer protagonist. Deladonchamps brilliantly plays the enigmatic Jacques in all his charm, ego, and vulnerability. Sometimes, those personality traits are woven together in the same scene when Jacques comfortably receives Arthur’s affections yet still keeps him at a slight distance.
As for Vincent Lacoste as Arthur, he’s equally brilliant, delivering a performance of bittersweet optimism. He captures Arthur’s naivete and hope that the love between him and Jacques will persevere with a sunny disposition. But his obliviousness to the fact that his romance with Jacques likely won’t survive makes his hopeful outlook rather devastating.
That being said, despite the film dealing with the AIDS crisis, it isn’t completely dire nor is it overtly political. It never loses sight of the gravity of the situation. In fact, we see how it affects not just Jacques but his son along with his ex-lover, Marco, who becomes on the verge of death. But it still shows Jacques trying to maintain a positive outlook in the midst of his struggle. By finding love with a younger man who accepts him despite his condition, Jacques is able to be a bit more appreciative of his life before it hits its end. Even during a scene where Jacques embraces Marco in a bathtub, he still tries putting on a happy face despite his eyes demonstrating the heartbreak over seeing Marco in his current state.
Neither politically preachy nor sentimental, Sorry Angel is ultimately a masterful romance about trying to live for the moment while you can and the struggle to do so. Thanks to the dynamic chemistry between the two leads, Sorry Angel is heartfelt, sensual, and devastating with a sly gut punch of a climax. Much like life itself, it is an incredible whirlwind of emotion and is already one of the year’s best movies.