Angèle et Tony – directed by Alix Delaporte – reminds me a lot of a 2004 Australian movie called Sommersault – both featuring a female character who is emotionally damaged and finds redemption through the love given by a reluctant man. Both are also leisurely paced which may frustrates viewers who are so used to the wham-bam speed that is often adopted by many American rom-coms. Both are also quite atmospheric, you get to almost “feel” the place and immerse yourself among the cast of the movie.
Angèle et Tony is about Angèle (Clotilde Hesme) who is out on parole and has not built strong relationship with her boy, Yohan. The movie is opened with a scene of Angèle having an emotionless romp with an Asian guy out in the open, so Angèle can get an action-figure from the guy as a birthday present for Yohan. The scenes introduce us to her character, as a numb and emotionally damaged lady who is too afraid to let her true feelings out. When Tony (Grégory Gadebois) replies to Angèle’s personal ad and meets her – he mentions about his intention of wanting to get a wife so she can help him and her mother in their fishing business in a fishing town on the coast of Normandy. He quickly realises that she doesn’t have any warmth or real feelings for him. In spite of it, when Angèle suddenly comes to his seaside town, he accepts her into her house as a boarder and trains her with the ins-and-outs of being in the fishing industry. The only question is, will Tony ultimately still want to marry Angèle when he knows about her past?
Hesme beautifully plays Angèle and subtly displays the transformation from the numb and street-smart character into a vulnerable woman who is ready to love again. On the other hand, Gadebois is a marvellous actor who shows Tony’s inner warmth and turmoil through his seemingly cold eyes. Angèle et Tony is a beautiful and heartwarming movie that is miles apart from corny Hollywood junks. I know that sometimes art-house movies, whether they are American or French, can be so out there that they are nearly impossible to enjoy. However this movie is sensitive but not melodramatic, leisurely-paced but not lethargic, atmospheric but not abstract. It strikes a nice balance that immerses the viewers into a beautiful story and a visual feast.