#TIFF23: “SOLO” REVIEW
By George Kozera
SOLO takes us into the world of Montreal’s illustrious drag queen scene, where Simon (Theodore Pellerin) is a rising star. Simon is a make-up artist during the day and has a wonderful and loving relationship with his supportive family (his sister, a seamstress, even creates his outfits), though it’s been over 15 years since he last saw his estranged mother. Claire (Anne-Marie Cadieux) left the family to go to Europe to pursue a career as an opera singer and is now world renowned. One night at the club, Simon meets recent recruit from France, Olivier (Felix Maritaud), and before you can say “Mama Ru“, they embark on a steamy and drug-fuelled relationship, and, as a duet, they entertain the audience with highly charged and erotic performances at the club. Very quickly, their relationship turns toxic as Olivier becomes increasingly domineering. Meanwhile, Simon learns that Claire will be back to Montreal to perform for a short time, and he desperately wants to reconnect with her. Simon becomes stretched emotionally.
Writer/Director Sophie Dupuis’ unique vision is impressive, but the story is muddled and borderline overly melodramatic. The drag performances in the club are visually-compelling, but the poisonous relationships Simon has with his mother and his lover is presented in a bewildered and not fully formed fashion.
What takes SOLO to stratospheric heights is the magnetic performance from Canadian Screen Award winner, Theodore Pellerin. It is unabashedly hypnotic and compelling, and he almost obliterates everyone he shares the screen with. His drag performances are equally captivating.
SOLO screens at TIFF ’23:
Sunday September 10, Roy Thomson Hall, 9:30PM
Monday September 11, Scotiabank, 3:30PM