There’s genuinely nothing more complicated then young love…
Genesis (or Genèse) is a beautiful and unconventional ode to not only the pursuit of awkward young love during a time when you are hardly in tune with your own identity, but the pain that it brings along with the equation.
Genèse is the story of three teenagers who are at odds and shaken up by their first experiences with love. While enrolled at a private boy’s college; Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin) grapples with the realization that he’s in love with his best friend, his half-sister Charlotte (Noée Abita) is presented with the idea of being in more of an ‘open’ relationship while young Felix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier) is in love with Beatrice at summer camp. During a time in their lives when conformity is expected, these young people do anything but.
This is really a very fluid cinematic experience as its one of those films that’s about nothing AND everything at the exact same time. Genèse wraps us up in the confusing nature of that time in our lives and never lets us go as it takes us back to the raw experiences of our youth.
The film is a sort of sequel to Writer/Director Philippe Lesage’s 2016 film Les Demons as the Felix character carries over but it rests its main focus on the other two characters. Lesage assembles it all in a rather free form fashion that allows the narrative to play out as more of a train of thought rather than tracking the story in more of a traditional fashion. It works to his advantage as we get lost in a time period that we can all relate to in one way or another as his naturalistic and beautiful shooting style wash over us while watching the film.
Lesage knows how to frame his action as well. There are several immaculately constructed shots in the film where he just lets the camera linger and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. In the right hands, a filmmaker can have so much emotion conveyed on the screen by just simply holding on a shot or in the way it’s visually constructed. There are moments of pure devastation and moments of pure hope in this film that are delivered without saying a word and it’s a testament to Lesage, his excellent direction and some very strong leading performances.
We’re not supposed to like the character of Guillaume all that much when we meet him for the first time but as his story evolves so does our opinion of him. Théodore Pellerin really takes us on a ride because while he’s unquestionably a smarmy teen at the beginning of the film we see why he acts this way and his ultimate self revealing moment is a fun thing to behold in the face of people around him who just aren’t interested in understanding who he is as a person. Noée Abita is equally as strong as Charlotte who keeps walking into these emotional minefield’s as she explores who she is as an individual, not only emotionally but sexually as well while Édouard Tremblay-Grenier as Felix takes us back to those blissfully ignorant moments when we just weren’t sure if someone was our girlfriend or not.
All three actors truly have a sense of the moment with the characters that they are playing and give some of the best on screen work this critic has seen all year. They succeed in being heartbreaking, maddening & hilarious all at the same time which really does bottle up that essence of young love that we’ve all walked through at some stage of life.
Genèse is the kind of film that allows us to appreciate the beauty as well as the heartache in those life learnt lessons that we’ve all experienced in our lifetimes. It’s easily one of the more humanistic films of the entire year.
Genesis opens tomorrow at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
- Release Date: 3/22/2019