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CANNES 2018 Competition

Christophe Honoré • Director of Sorry Angel

"A form of photography which reflects the years of my youth"

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- CANNES 2018: French filmmaker Christophe Honoré talked to the press about his new film, Sorry Angel

Christophe Honoré • Director of Sorry Angel
(© M. Petit / FDC)

Flanked by actors Pierre Deladonchamps and Vincent Lacoste, Christophe Honoré spoke to the international press about Sorry Angel [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Christophe Honoré
film profile
]
, screened in competition at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, a full-length film of great richness and scope, intermingling drama and distance, romantic love and physical passion.

In the French title of your film Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer et courir vite – Please, Love, and Run Fast), why the addition of the word “Fast”?
Christophe Honoré: Speed was what I wanted to give to the story, even though the actual telling of it does take a while. I also felt that Arthur, the character played by Vincent Lacoste, should feel as if his life is accelerating as the film progresses. The idea was to work with two separate speeds: one character who is starting out in life, who wants to get his life moving, and who meets Jacques, the character played by Pierre Deladonchamps, who, by contrast, is looking to slow things down, to stop. The co-existence of these two opposing speeds was crucial to the drama in the storyline.

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As of the opening credits, we know the year is 1993.
People like me who were 20 years old in the 1990s still remember it well. But there’s also a feeling of wanting to move away from that time as quickly as possible. It’s strange - it’s not in any way a bygone era but, equally, there are hardly any traces of it today. And when I say traces, I’m not only talking about architectural or fashion nods, but also traces of a more clandestine kind, more intimate, more underground. One of our aims with this film was to try to use a form of photography that would reflect the years of my youth, without nostalgia - or maybe a bit - but above all to reflect the memory I have of them as closely as possible. 

AIDS isn’t the main subject of the film, but do you think we could describe this as some form of post-war film?
It’s more about the dance afterwards, by which I mean how we dance once the dancers and the choreographers are no longer around, and what do we do with the romantic language they created, the fantasy they created, and how lonely we feel without a dance partner. People whom I loved, who were my idols when I was 20 years old and a student in Rennes. The film tries to give an account of all that: how do we keep on dancing once our partners have disappeared? And within this idea of dance, there is also the idea of disciplining ourselves to be light-hearted, to not complain at all costs, to not betray our sorrow or our grief, to make do.

So it’s an evocation?
The film does work that way. My hope is that it will trigger circumstantial memories, both for the characters and for certain members of the public. Obviously, the music in the film can have the same effect as Proust’s madeleine, but I believe it also takes place through the works within the film which infuse, and which diffuse, because the film is full of other works by other artists. There are phrases borrowed from Lagarce, others from Guibert, movements courtesy of an English choreographer… a form of memory free-flow. Cinema allows us to dream but it also has the power to trigger memories, even imaginary memories or phantom memories.

What were you aiming for in terms of the film’s photography?
I’d shot my previous two films in digital and I wanted to get back to using 35mm film. For the texture of the image, of course, but mostly to change things on set: "Action" really means "Action", “Cut” really means “Cut”. It’s not like with digital where actors are made to repeat their lines while the cameras are still rolling, where it feels like filming never really gets going and then never ends. Using 35mm film also puts pressure on the actors. I don’t do many takes and the preciousness of the film roll itself is very important when shooting. One thing I always notice with movies that are shot in digital is that the actors don’t act in the same way as when using film. This was also quite a unique shoot because two thirds of it were filmed at night and when you’re using 35mm, the final result is something quite special. There was also a degree of historical reconstruction involved, even if it’s only set in the 90s. I wanted to avoid having to work on the finer details, so we decided that the 90s would be blue, and we then applied this colour-theme to the whole of the film.

(Translated from French)

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