If you enjoy films that make you say “what the fuck did I just watch?” then you need to add Saint-Narcisse to your list. Canadian artist turned filmmaker Bruce LaBruce’s latest queercore oeuvre is a twincestuous dramedy of eroticism, perverse religious desires, sexual depravity, revenge and redemption: something for all the family.
A chaotic B-movie, Saint-Narcisse is a clever play on the Greek mythology of self-obsessed youth Narcissus, known for falling in love with his own reflection in the water. Its use within the stylish period setting, referencing and exposing the modern issues of self-absorption and religious hypocrisy, is somewhat poetic and admiring.
Felix-Antoine Duval plays twins, Dominic and Daniel, who were separated at birth. The film is set in 1972 Quebec after the death of his grandmother, the self-obsessed adult Dominic finds a letter from his presumed-dead mother. He sets out to find her in her forest hideaway, where Beatrice (Tanya Kontoyanni) casts herself out as a lesbian witch and explains their separation. Dominic then discovers his identical twin brother Daniel who was raised in a nearby monastery and is the disobedient prey of a perverted priest.
Dominic and Daniel soon start a sexual relationship together, brought on by Dominic’s quite literal fetishisation of his own image. From here, Saint-Narcisse is a messy and twisted autoerotic love story with generous visuals of male nudity throughout, which sort of makes up for the sometimes ropey plot and cringey acting.
There’s an entertaining and comedic commitment to the story and its references in Saint-Narcisse. LaBruce has crafted a transgressive, if almost cheesy throwback to 70s exploitation cinema, boldly mixing eroticism and religious imagery. The aesthetic reference to 70s filmmaking is clear from the onset. Although digital, it has the style and atmosphere of a 35mm movie from that era with pleasing cinematography and a good score. Think Midsommar crossed with The Parent Trap, if you will.
As a twin myself, I can’t say I will be following in the footsteps of Dominic and Daniel – I will, however, now be intrigued to see what LaBruce does next to push the boundaries within the world of LGBT erotic cinema. Sit back and enjoy the ride… if you’re willing to.
Saint-Narcisse was shown as part of the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival 2021, held in Cardiff for its 15th year from Tue 5-Sun 10 Oct. It’s available to watch online until the end of the month. More info: here
Dirs: Bruce LaBruce (no rating, 101 mins)
words JOHN EVANS for BUZZ CULTURE
Discover how our brand new learning experience is giving young people in Wales the skills they need to get ahead
Advertise with us.
We have a range of options across print and digital.