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An achingly beautiful and astonishingly assured coming-of-age tale, Genesis chronicles straight and queer desire in millennial Montreal with rare acuity. Writer-director Philippe Lesage (Les Démons, NZIFF16) returns to the autobiographical well with boarding school student Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin), who oozes insouciance as he harasses teachers and students alike, only to find himself confronted by unexpected desires. Meanwhile, his older half-sister Charlotte (Noée Abita) navigates her own passions in the ostensibly adult world, experiencing first-hand the entire spectrum of toxic masculinity.
From the outset, simmering tension lurks everywhere, accentuated by precision cuts and painterly shadows. Genesis isn’t a horror film as such, but deftly written scenes of mounting dread will leave you squirming in your seat; at the same time, a perfectly curated collection of needle-drops from Aldous Harding to the Trashmen score superbly choreographed long takes of dances and parties. With a closing coda that returns us to the earliest pangs of love – joining Les Démons’ lead character, Felix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier), at a summer camp – Lesage challenges the viewer to close the gap between the purity of desire and the darkness of the world. — Doug Dillaman
“Lesage quietly made one of the decade’s great narrative debuts with 2015’s Les Démons … Genesis, a more diffuse but intricately emotive follow-up… extends the autobiographical focus of his debut into a yearning, bruising vision of unpracticed adolescent desire… Uncommonly tender, nervy coming of age storytelling.” — Guy Lodge, Variety