UN ANGE A LA MER (ANGEL AT SEA)
Belgium, 2009, 86 minutes, Colour.
Anne Consigny, Olivier Gourmet, Martin Nissen.
Directed by Frederic Dumont.
How can a film look so sunny and yet be so sad?
The bright Moroccan settings are a light-filled backdrop to this story of a European family living in Morocco. At first, they seem to be ideal. The father, Bruno (Olivier Gourmet) is a hard-working advocate for farmers' rights. The mother, Marie (Anne Consigny) is devoted, a loving mother who records events on her camera. They have two sons, Quentin and Louis. Louis, the younger (Martin Nissen), is a sensitive but robust boy who loves his father while Marie seems to favour Quentin.
But Bruno, back from advocacy work in Rome, is in a bad way with depression. He separates himself from his wife and family and Marie always excuses him by saying that he has to work. He loses his temper with his assistant. He observes from his window and rarely comes out.
However, one day, he calls Louis from a football game and confides a secret to him. He has no right to do this to a young boy, especially when he does not follow up on the secret. This gnaws at Louis who changes, watching his father, stammering, lying to his mother, clashing with his brother. It is tragic when the crisis comes to a head.
Convincingly acted, especially by Martin Nissen, and persuasive dramatically, this is a sad picture of goodness being destroyed.
1.A portrait of a family? Happiness, sadness? Bleak?
2.The title, the poem, Louis reciting it, his failure at the concert to be able to speak? The end? The grim tone of the poem, the angel and grief?
3.The Morocco landscapes, the city, school, offices, homes? The contrast with the beach and the sea? The musical score?
4.The blend of reality, fantasy and dreams? What was real?
5.The portrait of the family: Marie, her marrying Bruno, her being a mother, her life in Morocco, love for her children, favouring Quentin? Her concern about Bruno? The family meeting him at the airport? Pierre and his warnings about Bruno’s behaviour in Rome? Bruno and his gifts for his children? The wings for Louis? Marie observing what was going on? Separate rooms from her husband? Excusing him that he was working? Her sharing with the family, at home, meals, out? Swimming, the relay race, the competition? The happiness of the day at the beach? Blaming Bruno for not trying to get help? Her relationship with Pierre? The celebration, Bruno not coming down, his having promised? The confronting of Louis? About his father, continually watching him? Louis and his stammer during the play, her consoling him? In the tree, watching his father, the lies about the tree being a treehouse? His hanging himself? The poem?
6.Louis as focus, his age, love for his father, his father favouring him? Playing with Quentin, the football, the commentary? The home movies and Quentin’s commentary? The bonds between the two brothers? The father, his illness, Louis’ concern, being called from the football match to hear the secret? His reaction to the secret, his father not killing himself? The effect on Louis, continued concern? Loss of innocence? The cats and the trap, trying to drown the cat with the hose? His stowing away in the boot of the car, watching his father? The drive home, counting the number of cats killed? The increase in his stammer? Quentin and his taunting him? Going to the beach, seeing his father in the water, following him into the water, to save him? His continually being upset? The stammer at the concert? The pressures, in the tree, hanging himself? The poem?
7.Bruno and his work, concern for the farmers and supporting them? Depression? Arriving home, the family, Pierre’s comment on his behaviour in Rome? Secluding himself? His anger with Pierre on the phone, going to the office? Calling Louis, confiding the secret? Yet living? Helping Louis with the trap for the cats? His reaction to Louis in the trunk of the car? Driving and killing the cats? Counting them? On the beach? His lies to his wife and supporting Louis?
8.Marie and her coping, the affair, swimming, making the films? The decision to leave Morocco?
9.Quentin, the older brother, favoured by his mother, pleasant, collaborating with Louis, the sport, the films? Later taunting him, his stammer?
10.Pierre, working with Bruno, his desperation, the attacks by Bruno, the affair with Marie?
11.The background of friends, the life in Morocco, the swimming competition, the party?
12.The impact of secrets and lies? What right had Bruno to tell his son the secret? The consequences for him? The consequences for Louis? For the family? Destruction?