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LIFF 2019: Genesis


Genesis follows three coming-of-age stories. Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin), a charming and rebellious schoolboy, discovers he is in love with his male best friend, while his half-sister Charlotte (Noee Abita)’s world turns upside down when her boyfriend tells her he wants an open relationship. And finally, Felix (Edouard Tremblay-Grenier), falls in love for the first time at a summer camp.

In Genesis, director Philipe Lesage focuses on the beautiful, intense emotions that only young people can feel so strongly. Both Guillaume and Charlotte have to face many difficulties because of their feelings. Guillaume loves his childhood best friend and feels the need to express those feelings, risking his reputation at school. Charlotte senses that her relationship with her boyfriend is coming to an end, and as a result gets involved with an older guy. Their stories are very touching, and dark at times, revealing what teenagers, but also gay people and women in particular, have to cope with in today’s society. 

Genesis has a surprising narrative structure. After initially following Guillaume and Charlotte’s emotional journeys, the film suddenly moves on to the story of young Felix. This abrupt switch is quite surprising, because the only link between Felix’s story and what was shown previously is that feeling of love as a teenager. It is like having a very short film tacked on to the stories of Guillaume and Charlotte.  However, I didn’t mind this because of how beautiful this ending section was. Felix is a 13-year-old boy with a crush on a girl at camp, and he tries to gather the strength to tell her how he feels. The story is so pure and charming, but also has a devastating effect on these characters who have never felt love before. It is the first time I have seen a realistic depiction of pre-teen love. Nothing ever happens on the outside, but inside these young people’s minds and hearts, so much is going on. It was definitely my favourite moment of the film. 

The film’s ability to take us inside the character’s minds is shown in the case of Felix, but also Guillaume and Charlotte. The cinematography emphasises their feelings through close-ups, and their space in society through wide shots and pans. (In the club, Guillaume is the only one without a date; in the park, Charlotte is literally half-way between her old love and her new one). The actors also bring their characters to life with skill, and make viewers care about their stories. In my opinion Théodore Pellerin, who plays Guillaume, truly steals the show. While the film was telling Charlotte’s story, I just wanted to see more of Theodore Pellerin’s charming and complex character. He is definitely one to watch.

Genesis is a film that made me rediscover the power of feelings during teenage years. Even though the characters’ sensitivity causes them pain, it made me long for those days when our feelings were all that counted.