Adapted for the screen by Michel Marc Bouchard from his noted play Les Feluettes, director John Greyson of Proteus and Zero Patience
fame, has with his trademark artistic eye, transformed a piece of theatre into a stunning work of cinematic beauty.
Set in Québec in 1952, it opens with the arrival of Bishop Bilodeau at a prison chapel, summoned to take the confession of a dying inmate, only to come face to face with Simon; a man who he knew forty years earlier when both were pupils at a Catholic Boys School. Yet so too was Vallier, friend and lover of Simon whose mother the Countess De Tilly yearns for a reunion with the man who abandoned her, only to learn the bitter reality about her husband upon the arrival of Parisian socialite Lydie-Anne, a lady who Simon is forced to court when the true nature of his sexuality becomes the talk of the town. For just as murder cannot be hid long...the truth will out†, as Bishop Bilodeau is about to re-live long suppressed memories courtesy of the prisoners re-enactment of the fated love triangle between Simon, Vallier and himself. It is an act of revenge destined to bring about atonement, as the confession Bilodeau is about to hear, is that of his own.
Essentially a play within a play, this engrossing film vividly depicts the emotions of love and rejection and the tragic consequences of such when jealousy enters the equation. Yet this is also a work that transcends gender, as the prison locality results with the all male cast portraying both sexes, Shakespearean style, with Brent Carver as the Countess De Tilly and Alexander Chapman as Lydie-Anne outstanding in their feminine, non drag queen form. Only beneath all the innovative set-pieces and lyrical lines, the story of the intense love that Vallier has for Simon dominates this feature, one that plays on the life of the Christian martyr Saint Sebastian to draw dramatic parallels. To that end, Jason Cadieux as the Young Simon and Danny Gilmore as Vallier are a delight to behold, whilst Matthew Ferguson as the Young Bilodeau unleashes the wrath of a love spurned.
The recipient of four Genie Awards, namely the Canadian Oscar® including that for Best Motion Picture, it is easy to see why this beautifully told story of love and redemption received such major acclaim, given it arrived as a stark reminder of how rewarding gay cinema can be in the hands of a talented director. High in homoeroticism, including full frontal nudity and aided by a haunting choral score, the result is a film that seamlessly alternates between the past and the present to deliver a pure celluloid gem, one that no gay film collection should be without. Simply wonderful.
† from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, 1600.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 4 stars.