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HomeFilm'Saint-Narcisse' review

‘Saint-Narcisse’ review

Dominic (Félix-Antoine Duval) finds his life upturned when his grandmother (Angèle Coutu) dies and he discovers that his mother (Tania Kontoyanni) didn’t really die during childbirth like he’d been told. Tracking her down, Dominic finds her living in a remote cabin in the woods with a mysterious young woman. While he tries to get to know the mother he believed to be dead, Dominic gets another surprise when he accidentally finds out that he has a twin brother living at a nearby monastery.

‘Saint-Narcisse’ is the latest film from Canadian provocateur Bruce La Bruce (‘Hustler White’) and in his usual style, it courts controversy and pushes viewers to places they will likely feel uncomfortable. Through the character of Dominic, La Bruce explores narcissism and presents a handsome young man who finds nothing more sexually attract than looking at himself. After opening the film with a close-up of Dominic’s leather-clad crotch, La Bruce wastes no time stripping his lead down for a sex scene in a launderette. The scene is then set for a lead character that is driven by his sexual desire for… well himself.

Dominic’s discovery of his mother asks as many questions as it answers. Firstly, it’s unclear who the young woman, Irene (Alexandra Petrachuk), is that she lives with and La Bruce has fun playing with witchcraft and sexuality. Are the two lovers, related or something else altogether? Secondly, the discovery of Dominic’s brother Daniel (also played by Félix-Antoine Duval) opens a whole new can of worms as he’s found to be living in a monastery at the mercy of predatory priest Andrew (Andreas Apergis), who uses his position of power to inflict his sexual desires upon Daniel.

Saint-Narcisse
Credit: Peccadillo Pictures

Félix-Antoine Duval is required to give a pretty fearless performance and he definitely delivers. La Bruce finds plenty of reasons to unrobe the young actor and the scenes with his twin brother (sometimes played by a body double) are meant to make you feel conflicted as Dominic carries out the ultimate act of narcissism and the very taboo subject of incest is brought to the fore. Duval is the finest thing about the film and he gives himself completely to playing two characters in a story that’s absolutely bonkers.

Where perhaps the film falters is that it asks the audience to go against societal norms but it doesn’t really sell in why they should. By that I mean that La Bruce pushes the envelope in terms of his subject matter but it’s hard to get under the skin of these characters and understand their motivations. Does Dominic really want to be incestuous or is he so in love with himself that he casts the incest part aside to enter into a sexually gratifying relationship with essentially himself? It’s unclear and while the audience will be challenged, it’s hard to figure out where you’re supposed to land with your feelings.

‘Saint-Narcisse’ is a stylishly directed film that will prove titillating to some viewers and challenging, if not off-putting, to others. As always with La Bruce’s work, the film will be divisive and it certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes. If you take it for what it is, a film that pushes the boundaries of sexuality and acceptability, you’ll likely find plenty to enjoy. Regardless, you’ll likely appreciate the eye candy on display even if the storyline leaves you feeling a bit icky.

Cast: Félix-Antoine Duval, Tania Kontoyanni, Alexandra Petrachuk, Angèle Coutu, Andreas Apergis Director: Bruce La Bruce Writers: Bruce La Bruce & Martin Girard Certificate: 18 Duration: 101 mins Released by: Peccadillo Pictures Release date: 22nd April (cinemas) 2nd May (DVD & Digital) Buy ‘Saint-Narcisse’ now

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Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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