Already Done Had Herses

Solo

by Rachel Willis

From the very first scene, Simon (Théodore Pellerin) grabs your attention and doesn’t let go in writer/director Sophie Dupuis’s film, Solo.

Make-up artist by day and drag queen performer by night, Simon’s world is filled with glamorous costumes and stunning performances. When Olivier (Félix Maritaud) arrives on the scene as a new performer, he and Simon have an instant connection.

Rounding out Simon’s life is his sister Maude (Alice Moreault), a designer who supplies Simon’s with his stunning stage wear.

Our first hint of trouble comes with the news that Simon’s mother is returning to Quebec after a 15-year absence. Having left the family to pursue her career, this is a cause for friction between the siblings. Simon professes to understand why his mother left, but as we watch him try to reconnect, it’s clear that her desertion has left a deep, devastating impression.

Pellerin is masterful at displaying a range of emotions, easily eliciting elation or despair in the audience. From his performances on stage (of which we’re lucky to get several), to his newly developing relationship, to the friction with his mother and sister, each moment feels as natural as if you were experiencing these things for yourself.

The supporting actors are equal to Pellerin, bringing a welcome depth not only to the film but to each character. As we dive deeper into Simon and Olivier’s relationship, we start to get subtle (then not so subtle) hints that things aren’t as sunny as they first appeared. Several montage moments of both drag performances and the drug-fueled parties serve to deepen the sense of the tempestuous relationship.

The montages start to feel like one too many, but the drag performances are fun to watch. So even while they don’t always further the story, it’s hard to mind their inclusion. However, it’s also hard not to want more moments of dialogue between characters. One less montage may have allowed for this, furthering any number of meaningful character interactions.

On the whole, Dupuis’s writing is masterful. Paired with Pellerin’s stunning performance, we’re given a film that encompasses joy, devastation, and hope. Solo is a beautiful, passionate film.

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