1952: Bishop Bilodeau visits a québécois prison to hear the confession of a boyhood friend jailed for murder 40 years ago. The inmates force the prelate to watch a play depicting what ...
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Michael T. Weiss,
1952: Bishop Bilodeau visits a québécois prison to hear the confession of a boyhood friend jailed for murder 40 years ago. The inmates force the prelate to watch a play depicting what really happened in 1912. We meet him as a young man, strait-laced, intent on convincing Simon (now the convict) to join the seminary with him. Vallier, the son of an impoverished and eccentric countess, loves Simon and he is drawn to Vallier, but in fear of his father's wrath for kissing Vallier during drama rehearsal, Simon courts a visiting Parisian, asking her to marry him. Vallier, encouraged by his mother, attends the engagement party to declare his love for Simon. And what does the watchful Bilodeau do? Written by
.... I'll catch the conscience of the Bishop (to paraphrase Hamlet). 'Lilies' is a morality play about love, murder, and retribution - three themes that have dominated classical drama for millennia. But, although it borrows heavily from Shakespeare and classical Greek drama, 'Lilies' is in many ways new and experimental also. The manner in which the scenes of the hauntingly beautiful "imaginary" landscape of northern Quebec are interleaved with the somber gray of the "real" prison set in which the play within a play unfolds is nothing short of brilliant. I've never seen anything quite like it in a movie before.
The events that form the core of the play took place in Roberval, Quebec, in the summer of 1912: Two boys, Simon and Vallier, find themselves madly in love with each other while rehearsing a school production of "The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian." Their passion does not go unnoticed, however; Simon's father flogs him mercilessly, and their schoolmate Bilodeau watches them with increasing envy. In a final fit of rage when Simon rebuffs him, Bilodeau exacts a horrible revenge on the two lovers. Justice eventually catches up with Bilodeau, however, when he is held hostage in the local prison and forced to watch a play (written by Simon and performed by the inmates) that depicts the events of that fateful summer forty years earlier.
I really can't find much to fault about this movie - other than it's length - at only 90 minutes, it seemed too short. For the most part, the acting was superb, with special notice going to Brent Carver as the piteous Countess de Telly. In many ways his portrayal of her reminded me of an aging Ophelia, and one soon forgets that he is a man playing a woman's role. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate 'Lilies' at 9.5. It is definitely a movie that should be viewed more than once.
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