Saint-Narcisse review – sex and subversion in family immorality tale | Movies


Taking self-love to new heights, Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce’s zany 70s-set family affair drips with blasphemous, outrageous delights. The tongue-in-cheek opening leaps straight out of a retro softcore magazine: clad in tight jeans and biker jacket, hunky Dominic (Félix-Antoine Duval) discreetly eyes a mischievous young lady at the laundromat before the pair disrobe and writhe around on a table like rabbits in heat. As strangers gather to stare at the salacious hanky-panky, Dominic is suddenly snapped out of his daydream.

The scene might simply be a sticky reverie, but it also establishes how Saint-Narcisse portrays sex as a spectacle, a sensual yet comical tableau served to titillate and amuse all at once. With the swagger of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, Dominic hops on his bike and embarks on a road trip strung with high and low cultural references, as he searches for his long lost twin. Not only does Dominic reunite with his lesbian witch mother – you read that right – but he also locates his brother Daniel in a monastery, where he suffers daily molestations from a depraved priest.

Playing the dual roles of Dominic and Daniel, Duval is especially adept at navigating the film’s complex web of campness and sincerity; when the twins finally meet face to face, their encounter brims with both winking lust and genuine pathos. While the frenetic layering of the parodic, the pornographic, and the sublime might leave viewers gasping for air, Saint-Narcisse is a welcome blast of subversive naughtiness, proving that a film can tackle social taboos while refusing to brand itself with facile markers of respectability.

Saint-Narcisse is released on 22 April in cinemas.


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