When it comes to portraying unconventional relationships French cinema has the market well and truly cornered. Perhaps due to our stereotypical perception of their overly zealous and liberal approach to love and sex, French cinema has always seemed to continually deliver high quality films covering a wide range of romantic entanglements with a refreshingly naturalistic and open-minded style. Whether it’s the ill-fitting match up of a repugnant older man with his young trophy wife or the splendidly nonchalant approach to threesomes, French cinema seems to have no shame when it comes to passions of the flesh and Angele et Tony with its touching love story between two very unlikely individuals fits this mould perfectly.
Angele (Coltilde Hesmes) is fresh out of prison and subsequently finds herself estranged from her young son, Yohan. She seems unwilling to reintegrate into society and initially her destructive behaviour points her out as prime exponent of the revolving door prison system. Applying to a personal add in the local paper (a pursuit she often relies upon to attain a brief moment of sexual gratification in exchange for personal favours) she meets Tony, a quiet and incredibly shy fisherman whose weathered face appears to mirror the feelings of solitude and misery which now consume Angele’s soul. This peculiar conjoining of two polar opposite personalities slowly begins to flourish and after some initial obstacles their unusual partnership begins to bear fruits of a more meaningful relationship which may ultimately help reunite Angele with her son and finally lift Tony out of his deep seated depression.
This slow burning romance demands your patience if you’re to be truly enveloped by its heart-warming tale of redemption. The dialogue is sparse and the action limited but beneath this relatively humdrum facade lies a deep emotional story which delves further into issues of love and family than most over blown love stories could possibly dream of achieving. Whilst never transcending its subtle attempts to portray a modern day love story this un-auspicious drama’s naturalistic approach to storytelling successfully manages to create an unusually sincere portrait of working class relationships.
Many will find its monotonous pace and desolately honest approach a little too much and rightfully so, as this is a film so devoid of any form of joy or excitement that you’d be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone with even the slightest preference for the comforting sensibilities of mainstream cinema, but as a harrowingly bleak insight in the real emotional traumas of modern day life Angele et Tony is hard to beat.