‘Angèle’: Portrait of a Young Popstar

From "the fake" to a LGBTQ model.

by Ingrid Dendievel
Angèle

Before I watched this documentary, I hardly knew about Angèle. That’s quite surprising since I am Belgian myself, and a fiercely patriotic one at that. But then I understood why. While she put her first steps toward fame, I had some severe health problems, and in 2018, when her first record came out, I was moving from Belgium to Spain. In the meantime, this young singer had become popular over the whole of Belgium, which is quite a feat. Most artists in Belgium are either popular in Flanders or Wallonia. Stromae was an exception, and over just a few years, Angèle has beaten all of his recording records. The documentary depicts her as an artist and a private person.

Born into a family of artists in the Belgian capital, Angèle originally struggled to find her own identity as an artist. Her father is a singer/songwriter, her mother a comedian, and her brother a rapper. In other words, she was known as “the daughter of” and as “the sister of”. Angèle originally found her own voice on Instagram, where she posted and still posts videos that are a mix of music and comedy. Afterward, she started performing in some of the biggest cafés in Brussels. What catapulted her into fame was a series of concerts she did as a background musician with Belgian rapper Damso. The documentary uses home videos, music videos, and Instagram clips. She comes across as an honest but vulnerable person, overwhelmed by everything that has happened to her.

The documentary starts with the question, “who is Angèle?”. To cope with all the craziness around her, she developed a different public persona, losing herself in the process (hence, “the fake”). The fans, on the other hand, are only interested in the pop star. What struck me here in this documentary is how far some of the fans are willing to go to come closer to their idol, and how truly aggressive some of them become.

These same fans didn’t realize that Angèle was working on her new album; the former one, Brol, (Belgian word for “mess”) needed a successor. She was also working on Annette (with Leon Carax) and was preparing a duet with Dua Lipa. In the meantime, she revealed herself as bisexual (she announced it on Instagram) and her brother was accused of sexually harassing a woman. All this is a lot to handle.

I don’t think I will ever become a fan of her music, although I do like Bruxelles Je T’aime — probably for nostalgic reasons. I do like the singer herself, she has a pleasant personality and has attained a lot in only a handful of years. The film certainly does its job in that respect. This is the first documentary that directors Brice Vdh and Sébastien Rensonnet have made, and I found it to be very informative. Maybe the die-hard fans will be less enthusiastic — they’ll probably know everything about her and her family — I can’t help but think, “is the sky the limit for Angèle?


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1 comment

Nick Kush December 7, 2021 - 10:51 pm

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