Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Alix Delaporte

Stars: Clotilde Hesme, Antoine Couleau, Gregory Gadebois, Evelyne Didi.

Following its screenings during the recent French Film Festival, this light and understated romantic drama gets a limited theatrical release.

Angele (Clotilde Hesme, from The Grocer’s Son, etc) is a petty thief recently released from prison who is keen to re-establish a relationship with her estranged nine-year old son Yohan (Antoine Couleau), who is currently being cared for by her parents. To win back custody she has to prove to the authorities that she has stable employment. Angele also likes casual, anonymous sex with partners she meets through the personal messages columns of newspapers. Which is how she meets the gruff and chubby fisherman Tony (Gregory Gadebois, from Gainsbourg, etc).

Tony is currently living at home with his invalid mother (Evelyne Didi) following the disappearance of his father at sea. He is looking for some live-in help, and is initially turned off by the sexually aggressive Angele. But slowly they are drawn together. Tony offers her a job in the fish market, and allows her to move into a bedroom in his house. They make for an odd couple, and this delicate, sincere film follows their shaky relationship.

It is a slight premise, but first time director Alix Delaporte handles the material with subtlety and compassion, and she slowly teases out details about her two characters. The central performances are good, although the two central characters themselves are rather unlikeable and shallow, and there is a lack of obvious chemistry between them. Hesme brings a brittle quality to her performance as the manipulative, enigmatic and sullen Angele, who is socially awkward and desperate to redeem herself. Gadebois is solid as the lonely and insecure Tony.

The film is set against the picturesque backdrop of Port-en-Bessin, a small fishing village in Normandy, and Delaporte gives us some brief insights into this town and the hardships facing its inhabitants. Claire Mathon’s cinematography brings a rich texture to the film as well.

However, Delaporte unnecessarily stretches the thin material out with lots of shots of Angele riding her pushbike that add little to the film. Angele & Tony is a modest, bittersweet character driven film that has plenty of charm, but is not without its downbeat and darker moments. The film also ends rather abruptly, without a proper resolution, but it is an optimistic note on which to finish.




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