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Angèle, a beautiful young woman with a past, arrives in a small fishing harbor in Normandy. She meets Tony, a professional fisherman, who finds himself attracted to her although he dislikes her blunt ways. Tony hires her as a fishmonger, lodges her and teaches her the tricks of the trade. The relationships between Myriam, Tony's mother, and Angèle are far from easy but the young woman gradually adapts to her new environment and little by little Tony and Angèle manage to tame each other... Written by
Having been a journalist and a documentary maker before turning to fiction, it is hardly surprising to find that Alix Delaporte has a talent for capturing reality. In "Angèle et Tony", the time is now and it shows: Angèle, Tony, their family and friends are indeed people that you could meet down the street, at the baker's or at your local café. Likewise, the place, a small fishing harbor in Normandy, is anything but artificial. Shot entirely on location in Port-en-Bessin (a small town by the sea which was already the setting of Marcel Carné's "La Marie du Port"in 1949 and of Zanuck's "The Longest Day" in 1962), the film gives you the feeling you have always lived there, all that lacks being the spray of the sea and the smell of fish! Socially speaking, "Angèle et Tony" is grounded in reality as well. The hardships of being among the last fishermen in France and the struggle to survive as such are aspects that are examined seriously, albeit briefly, through descriptions, conversations and tense confrontation with the police. Last but not least, the relationships between the characters ring true: Angèle, Tony, Tony's mother, face and confront each other using ordinary everyday words, in close connection with their immediate environment.
On the other hand, Alix Delaporte does not mistake realism for naturalism, which is a good point. Sure, Angèle has a troubled past but the writer-director does not dwell on it. Agreed, a fisherman's life is no life of roses, but Alix Delaporte shows them taking action not moaning about their lot. Granted, the relationships between Angèle and Tony are difficult but this is not the point. The real point is to show how these strangers, who have apparently nothing in common, will open to each other and try to exist as a couple, becoming better human beings in the process.
Such a positive dynamic makes "Angèle et Tony", a potentially depressing drama, a pleasant movie, both instructive and entertaining.
The leading couple is a sure-handed choice and contributes to the success of Alix Delaporte's first fictional effort. Clotilde Hesme constantly finds the right note, managing to combine stubborn aggressiveness and touching frailty. And Gregory Gadebois turns in an interesting performance as a life-like fisherman, withdrawn and brooding, but hiding romantic feelings behind this facade. His restrained acting style is so natural that you would never think he is a member of the Comédie-Française.
All in all a good film, but which could have been even better had the director avoided a few lengthy passages, in particular when it comes to Angèle riding her bike. Why spend so much film time on scenes that do not bring much to the whole thing (Okay Angèle zigzags, a metaphor of her wayward ways, but she does it too often and too long : five seconds are enough to get the point!) while there are more interesting aspects which would benefit from a more in-depth approach? However this is only a minor defect and it should not deter you from spending an hour and a half in the company of Angèle and Tony.
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