An unlikely encounter ignites an instant love and opens the possibility for personal redemption in Koen Mortier’s Angel. Adapted from the novel by Belgian author Dimitri Verhulst, the film tells the story of world-famous cyclist Thierry Brasfort (Vincent Rottiers) whose career has been full of both triumphant and embarrassment. Rather than addressing his problems currently derailing his career, mainly his drug addiction, Thierry decides to vacation in Dakar with his brother.

Indulging in various vices, though he never sleeps with anyone who he doesn’t love, Thierry meets and falls for a Senegalese sex worker named Fae (Fatou N’Diaye). Drawn together by their intangible spark, the couple’s whirlwind romance takes an unexpected turn that leads Fae to be arrested for a crime she did not commit.

Feverishly jumping between the past and the present, and blurring fantasy and reality, Angel is far from your conventional love story. Mortier’s film captures both the intense passion and the instability of Thierry’s volatile mind. This is partly achieved through the vibrant colour palette the film employs. The colour red alone is used to symbolize passion, rage, love and danger depending on the scene.

Though the film goes to some pretty dark places at times, the subtle performances by Rottiers and N’Diaye help to ensure that our focus remains on the couple even in the most stylized moments. While further insight into Fae, who refuses to officially register as a sex worker knowing the hardship that such an act would bring in a Muslim country, would have been beneficial, N’Diaye brings the right amount of sophistication and innocence to the role. Equally darkly romantic and disturbing, Angel is a love story that one does not easily forget.

Tuesday, September 11, 9:45 PM, Scotiabank
Thursday, September 13, 9:45 PM, Scotiabank
Saturday, September 15, 9:15 PM, Scotiabank