It felt like the Met Gala on Sunday evening at Roy Thomson Hall, the red carpet was so overflowing with people in extravagant outfits. All queer and non-binary Torontonians gathered to attend the gala premiere of SOLO, by Sophie Dupuis, with Théodore Pellerin, who plays Simon, a drag artist, whose brilliant career will be weighed down by a serious existential crisis.
Visibly excited about SOLO, Cameron Bailey, the director of the Toronto Film Festival, brought the director and some members of the cast on stage before the screening. Bailey was delighted with the flamboyant nature of Dupuis’ film, whose story is inspired by the Montreal drag scene. Adding that it has its place in the programming – the feature film is eligible for voting for the Audience Award, the TIFF People’s Choice Award, awarded at the end of the festival.
Surrounded by six performers from SOLO – Théodore Pellerin, Félix Maritaud, Alice Moreault, Vlad Alexis, Jean Marchand and Tommy Joubert – Sophie Dupuis then participated in a discussion after the screening. She was floating on cloud nine, so thrilled by how the screening was going that she was searching for the words in English at the beginning. The director and screenwriter explained to the Toronto audience that SOLO tells two, or even three stories in a single film: the world of drag, Simon’s ties to his family and his impossible loves.
“There are no clear answers,” continued the Watchdog filmmaker. Because these are relationships of ambivalence: Simon does not know which foot to dance on. He is manipulated, put on a pedestal, then rejected only to fall further. It’s always ambiguous, this kind of relationship. »
In SOLO, Simon is a rising star in the drag art scene. When he meets Olivier (Félix Maritaud), the new recruit at the bar where he performs, it’s love at first sight. But their love story will quickly turn into a destructive dynamic. In parallel with his toxic relationship, Simon lives a bittersweet relationship with his mother (Anne-Marie Cadieux), a famous opera singer who works abroad, and whom he no longer sees.
Juxtaposing the electrifying performances of lip sync, music and dance (the numbers are choreographed by Gérard Reyes) with the intimate moments between Simon and his loved ones, the director visibly wanted to show the humanity of drag; vulnerable beings despite their poise on stage. Moreover, the dependence of Simon (and his accomplices at the bar) on alcohol and artificial paradises is the reflection of a bad way of life.
SOLO is also a demonstration of Théodore Pellerin’s immense talent. The latter bursts the screen. He was also warmly applauded on Sunday evening at Roy Thomson Hall. The actor skillfully plays both sides of Simon. It’s a (very) great performance. The actor’s performance is inhabited by sensitivity, truth and an inner world.