It’s been eleven years and half a dozen features since French director Christophe Honoré last roused critics’ enthusiasm with his ménage-à-trois musical Love Songs. With Sorry Angel, the story of a budding romance in 1993 between a thirty-five-year-old, HIV-positive writer, Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps), and a twenty-two-year-old student, Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), just coming to terms with his desire for men, he’s begun to win many of them back.
“Honoré at last makes good on our faith in his talent,” writes Variety’s Peter Debruge. And Little White Lies’ David Jenkins agrees that the new film “sees him newly invigorated and mobilizing all of his qualities as a maker of droll, quietly affecting and perceptive human dramas,” adding, “What’s initially striking about this expansive new feature is its rich, almost novelistic screenplay which takes time to lavish in the detail of intense conversation.”
Time Out’s Dave Calhoun, who gives Sorry Angel four out of five stars, admires the period specificity: “Massive Attack and Ride are on the soundtrack; a poster advertises a Suede gig in Rennes; and The Crying Game and The Piano are playing at the cinema.” Adding to the overall authenticity, notes the Telegraph’s Robbie Collin, are “some wonderfully eerie cruising sequences, in which this ritual from the pre-Grindr era is performed with an almost dance-like poise.”
Among the naysayers is the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who finds that “the flip cynicism is not easy to read here. And the recurrent note of torpid drollery and melancholy in this film strikes me as exactly the sort of self-involved fatalism that the passionate ACT UP campaigners in Robin Campillo’s superb [BPM: Beats Per Minute] wanted to blow out of the water.”
More from David Acacia (International Cinephile Society), John Bleasdale (CineVue, 3/5), Ben Croll (TheWrap), A. A. Dowd (A.V. Club, B-), Jon Frosch (Hollywood Reporter), Fionnuala Halligan (Screen), Eric Kohn (IndieWire, B), Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair), Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa), Sam C. Mac (House Next Door), Rory O’Connor (Film Stage, B-), Jonathan Romney (Sight & Sound), and Barbara Scharres (RogerEbert.com). And Variety’s Elsa Keslassy gets a few words with Honoré.
Update, 5/27: Two more mixed reviews. “Although Sorry Angel’s initial efflorescence of emotion dissipates over its considerable 132 minutes, shifting from melancholy to outright maudlin, numerous flashes of pleasure abound,” writes Lawrence Garcia in the Notebook, but the Village Voice’s Bilge Ebiri found himself “longing for the dreamy melancholy of Beloved, Love Songs, or Dans Paris.”
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