A new film from the Canadian queer auteur Bruce La Bruce is always an event. We are careful not to include him as part of the wave of new queer cinema that the leading Film scholar Ruby B Rich first recognized. LaBruce is one of the leaders of the queercore movement which is. noted for the avant-garde and unapologetic gay answer to the punk movement.
That is self-evident even in movies like Saint Narcisse that although is as mainstream as La Bruce will ever go, still bears all the usual signature hallmarks of his more fringe work. E.G. there is plenty of nudity, incest, an obsession with religious themes, and with Saint Sebastian who is often recognized by the queer community as ‘one of us’.
La Bruce kicks off the movie with his camera fixed firmly on a leather-clad crotch. It belongs to Dominic (Felix Antoine Duvall) who is in a laundromat, and as well as doing his washing. he very quickly ends up buck naked and making out with some girl he has just met. LaBruce throws in an audience of young girls and men passing by who peer in through the window to enjoy the show.
It certainly grabs our attention and also Dominic’s too as he is convinced that he sees someone that looks just like in the crowd of voyeurs. It confuses him, and us alike, but it’s the start of a mystery that will soon totally consume the young man.
This is Quebec in the 1970’s and Dominic lives with his grandmother (Angele Coutu) whose explanation of why his mother took off after his birth is suitably vague. It’s enough to set him off on a quest that eventually leads him to a remote shack forest in the countryside. It’s where he finds his mother (Tania Kontoyanni) living with Irene (Alexandra Petrachuk) her much younger lover, and the locals in the nearby town consider them as white witches.
Nearby is a Monastery where Daniel the young man who Dominic had espied outside the laundromat lives. He is not just a Seminarian but is the ‘protege’ of a very creepy Father Andrew (Andreas Apergis) who has been sexually and mentally abusing him for years.
Like Dominic’s grandmother, we are not sure if his theory about Daniel may being his twin because up to now with him compulsively taking polaroid selfies we know he is totally self-obsessed. Seeing his so-called double may just be a figment of his imagination.
It isn’t, and when the two men finally meet its obvious that they are twins (Daniel is played Duvall and a body double). The action hots up as La Bruce’s imagination really kicks in and leads us to a melodramatic finale that shows his passion for B-movies.
Saint Narcisse may not be to everyone’s taste (it will certainly appeal to anyone with narcissistic tendencies). However, if you like La Bruce’s previous films such as The Raspberry Reich which won Best Gratuitous Use of Sex at a Film Festival, then you’ll really love this one.