Many Myths Are Abound in Saint Narcisse

16 Sep

Saint-Narcisse (2020) Canadian movie posterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Vancity Theatre beginning Sept 17, 2021 (please click link for showtimes)
1181 Seymour St
Vancouver, BC

Knowing who Bruce LaBruce is as a maverick storyteller can prepare those new to his world on what to expect. This avant-garde filmmaker is known for his very explicit sexually charged style and his movies are often about gays rather than the blending of pop culture genres. Not everyone will want to watch his take on zombies and vampires. His latest, Saint-Narcisse, is his spin on a well known Grecian myth with a dash of horror and delight added on top.

This film is an amusing expansion on the story of Narcissus. Dominic (Félix-Antoine Duval) is obsessed with his looks. He had enough sexual encounters with both genders, but after meeting a female Cyclops of sorts, he can’t help but feel something dreadful is coming. He doesn’t know who the phantom face he sees is. He’s haunted by it. Eventually, he’ll visit the sleepy town of Saint-Narcisse de-Beaurivage in Quebec to get answers.

He discovers he has a twin brother, Daniel (also Duval), who’s more or less locked up in a monastery. Dom wants to help. Their meeting and Dan’s coming out is problematic. Only one of them knows the other is family, and the twincest inappropriate. Somehow, LaBruce managed to make their reunion tender rather than exploitative. 

When handled as a myth, usually its brothers and sisters together–the most famous is the reunion of Osiris and Isis, and how they mated to continue a royal line. Their opposites are Nephthys and Set. Part of this filmmaker’s thesis is in how families matter, despite how twisted these internal relationships can get. Historians of those royal relationships from antiquity which presented problems later on, but in this era any whispered talk is hearsay.

The mystical aspect doesn’t get explored after the revelation that their mom, Irene (Alexandra Petrachuk) is a witch of substantial power. I couldn’t help but think of Circe, one of many goddesses of magic from Greek tradition. Both look forever young. Had this film also dealt with the fantastic–and shown pigs about her private home–I’d say this film is a winner. What some viewers won’t understand is how the story of St. Sebastien factors into this movie about idolatry. This tale also features an Irene character in a very important role. This connection isn’t fully elaborated on. Instead, all we have is just enough subtle horror movie style moments to make this work appropriate for the coming season.

Ultimately, this film is about one brother reconnecting with his roots so he can help his family break free from their pain. As for who wins, it’s simply when Dominic understands who he is instead of what his presence represents.

4 Stars out of 5

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