Sale comme un ange is another dark portrayal of human sexuality from Catherine Breillat, her fourth in a series of provocative and unequivocally personal films. What is most striking about this film is its sense of realism and the totally unromantic way in which a romantic liaison is portrayed. By showing a consensual love affair between a young woman and a much older man in a sordid, almost animalistic way, Breillat risks offending the sensibilities of her public, but her boldness works – the end result stands as one of her most haunting and poetic films.
Claude Brasseur’s portrayal of an ennui-burdened middle-aged policeman is as poignant as it is grotesque, whilst his co-star Lio conveys the conflicting emotions of a willing adulteress with great depth and sensitivity. This is not an easy film to watch – the austere realist style and limp policier backstory drains the film of surface emotion, making it a hard film to engage with. Yet it is the unusual, convention-breaking style of the film which ultimately makes it so appealing, which allows us to be drawn into the brittle lives of its protagonists and to appreciate their torn inner feelings. This is not a film about surface emotions, but about something much deeper, much more unsettling. It’s about an eternal longing that can neither be controlled nor rationalised – a familiar tale, but told in a daringly raw fashion.
Subtitles:English & Spanish [.idx & .sub]