Lilies (1996)

Lilies (1996)

A passionate, underseen queer gem where a confession transforms into a memory play

7.5

Movie

Canada
English, French
Drama, Fantasy, Romance
1996
JOHN GREYSON
Alain Gendreau, Aubert Pallascio, Brent Carver
95 min

TLDR

“We shall be free. We'll be loved. If you do truly love me, let your love be known unto me.” I need to cry right now.

What it's about

Brought to the prison to hear the confession of a dying inmate, visiting bishop Jean Bilodeau is surprised when his old friend Simon Doucet has staged a play about their youth together, forcing him to recall the love and betrayal of their mutual past.

The take

Many people have forgotten that representation and diversity in media isn’t meant just to fill a quota or to signal virtue– the push for it is in response to the way many of these stories were silenced, repressed, and shut out. Lilies might have been overlooked for quite a while, but its 2023 restoration has thankfully enabled more viewers to watch the tale of an imprisoned gay man finally telling his story, turning the tables on a long overdue confession. Michel Marc Bouchard adapts his play through this play-within-a-film, with director John Greyson playing with the confession booth as a viewing booth for both the bishop and the audience to get fully immersed in a love triangle a century ago, juxtaposed with motifs of martyred Catholic saints and French lilies and fire. Lilies is a well-crafted and deeply emotional masterpiece.

What stands out

It’s a unique choice to cast men for the female characters in this film, which makes perfect sense considering the cast all come from a Quebec men’s prison, and men have acted in female roles in theater historically.

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