Well, if film festivals didn’t challenge you, it would just be going to the movies. Bruce LaBruce was never going to let that happen though. He’s Canada’s queercore king, the avant-garde and unapologetic gay answer to the punk movement. He famously blends an indie sensibility with gay porn imagery, exploring taboos and limits and putting his audience through an unforgettable adventure, one way or the other.
Dominic (Félix-Antoine Duval) is a young man with an unexpected fetish – himself. His own face and flesh are the only things that turn him on. He masturbates to Polaroids of himself and has never met a reflection he didn’t like. This is one of LaBruce’s signature transgressions against cultural norms, but he pushes that button quick, and moves on to the next. Dominic was raised by his grandmother believing his mother to be dead but new information sets him on a road trip to find her. Turns out she’s a witch, or at least that’s what the locals of Saint-Narcisse call the old woman living in an isolated cabin in the woods, living with a young woman who may or may not ever age.
His arrival finds Beatrice away from her cabin in the woods, but young Irene (Alexandra Petrachuk) is there, brandishing a gun rather than a welcome wagon. Naturally he waits for his mother in the garden, where he gets naked and takes a shower. As you do. But either when the maybe-mother son reunion happens, Dominic’s story still feels incomplete. Beatrice’s (Tania Kontoyanni) story has some pretty big holes in it, but luckily Dominic’s already fixated on someone else – Daniel, a monk in the monastery next door, who Dominic believes is a dead ringer for himself.
Daniel the monk enjoys homoerotic romps in the river with his order of brothers, and to masturbate to flyers of underwear ads while self-flagellating.
If you thought LaBruce was going to let you off easy, you don’t know your LaBruce. He’s going to continue to shock and subvert. But he also rather consciously pushes us to recognize our own role in the voyeurism (It is Not the Pornographer That is Perverse).
The story is a vehicle for naughty and immoral things, for pushing up against explicit boundaries and seeing how far they’ll give. It is not a movie with mass appeal. LaBruce and writing partner Martin Girard have much less interest in story than in shock value. It’s as if they’re daring their audience to look away, and by god they’re going to do everything in their power to win.