French-Canadian filmmaker Philippe Lesage follows up his knockout debut film The Demons with Genesis, a lyrical and imaginatively structured coming-of-age film concerned with three tender stories of young love

Film Review by Jamie Dunn | 27 Feb 2019
  • Genesis
Film title: Genesis
Director: Philippe Lesage
Starring: Théodore Pellerin, Noée Abita, Édouard Tremblay-Grenier, Pier-Luc Funk, Émilie Bierre, Maxime Dumontier, Paul Ahmarani, Jules Roy Sicotte, Antoine Marchand-Gagnon, Brett Dier

Come to Philippe Lesage for the euphoric dance scenes; stay for his watchful, perceptive filmmaking. The talented Quebecois writer-director’s second feature, Genesis, is concerned with that most familiar of subjects: young love. But Lesage has a thrillingly unconventional structure on which to hang his trio of intimate tales of adolescent amour, two of which are harrowing, the other is as light and sweet as candyfloss.

At an all-boys boarding school, a smart-mouth with a penchant for JD Salinger has developed romantic feelings for his best friend. Back in Montreal, a young woman breaks up with her geeky, commitment-phobe boyfriend and embarks on a fling with a more dynamic older man. Told in parallel, with the connection between the respective characters initially concealed, both characters put their hearts on the line and make foolhardy choices.

Lesage’s startling compositions do most of the talking, but he also knows how to write a charged late-night conversation or a tender declaration of love. Dreamy synth ballad Outside, by Montreal outfit Tops, drifts in and out of both stories, as if echoing each protagonist's pain. It all might be too heartbreaking if it weren’t for Genesis’s surprise coda, an achingly tentative first romance at an adventure camp that brings back a familiar face from Lesage’s equally impressive debut, The Demons. It’s as if Lesage has to end on this tender grace note to remind us love is possible, and worth getting hurt for.

Genesis screens at Glasgow Film Festival – Sat 2 Mar, GFT, 5.30pm; Sun 3 Mar, CCA, 11.30am