For about the first 20 minutes of Sex Of Angels, I felt primed to dislike it. I was trying to be open-minded, but as the plot unfolded it looked like it was going to hit on some of my biggest bugbears about LGBT-themed movies. However as it continued it turned out to be a lot smarter and more involving than it first seemed.
My issue with it initially was that it appeared to be yet another movie about a ‘straight’ guy in a relationship with a woman, who cheats on her, yet we’re supposed to think it’s okay because he cheats of her with a guy – which in the lexicon of gay movies often doesn’t get treated as ‘real’ infidelity. The guy in question is Bruno (Llorenc Gonzalez), who’s been with Carla (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) since he was young.
He meets Rai (Alvaro Cervantes) when he gets robbed while watching him streetdance. They become friends, but it soon becomes something deeper when Rai starts to seduce him. When Carla sees them kissing, she is understandably shocked, but she’s still in love with Bruno so she eventually agrees that he can continue to see Rai. This arrangement is harder for her to deal with than she expected – even after she decides she quite likes Rai herself. But will Bruno be as understanding as Carla when he discovers she’s also been sleeping with Rai?
Although the beginning of the movie comes across as a bit of an apologia for cheating, the rest of the film takes it far further forward, exploring sexuality, boundaries, the idea that relationships must always just be two people and the complexity of how our feelings battle with our brains. Even the notion of what constitutes ‘cheating’ gets muddied as the film explores the fact that the edges of a relationship are what those involved decide they should be, not what society tells them.
I’m still not entirely convinced that Rai isn’t a dick – even if he’s a likeable dick – whose rather selfish love of seduction threatens to leave emotional wreckage left, right and centre. There are a few scenes explaining why he is like he is and also that things have changed with Rai and Carla, but even so, there’s still a good chance he’s an asshole. Luckily for him he’s a very sexy asshole who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, so even when he’s being incredibly amoral, you can certainly see both Bruno and Carla’s attraction.
The movie is also helped by numerous scenes that feel real and raw. The plot could easily have felt rather contrived, but there’s a naturalness to the characters’ response to each situation that helps to ensure you go with it. Each of the characters is flawed, does stupid things and reacts in ways that are intellectually dumb but emotionally understandable. Astrid Berges-Frisbey (best known for her mermaid turn in Pirates Of The Caribbean 4) is particularly good at looking utterly shocked and wounded, which helps a lot towards the end of the film when there’s a danger of things edging a tad too far towards farce. Indeed, the whole thing is an object lesson in taking things to the edge, so that you can really feel and understand the characters, but without the movie tipping over the edge into melodrama or feeling fake.
That’s even true of a moment towards the end that objectively should come across as ridiculously overly manipulative, contrived and even a little silly, but is handled so well that it becomes the catalyst for the audience to accept that the end of the movie is the only conclusion that’s true to these characters. That said, I’d really like to know what happens after the movie ends, and whether the resolution is something the characters can manage to make a long-term success. Perhaps there’ll be a Sex Of Angels 2 so we can find out.
Overall Verdict: There are admittedly some rough edges and moments that push the edges of emotional credibility, but largely Sex Of Angels is a success. Its initial set-up may feel familiar, but it uses its tale of bisexual infidelity to go far deeper than most, exploring the nature of sexuality and attraction. You may not always agree with its conclusions, but it’s an involving, entertaining and sometimes sexy trip.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac