The faces of Bruce LaBruce

The faces of Bruce LaBruce


For more than two decades, the name Bruce LaBruce has been synonymous with controversy, provocation and even blasphemy. The Cinémathèque québécoise demonstrates this particularly well with the largest Canadian retrospective devoted to the Toronto filmmaker. 

The filmmaker attests to it: this retrospective could hardly bear his name better: Bruce LaBruce: Tender and transgressive. For anyone who knows – even briefly – his filmography knows that he is able to visit both ends of this spectrum. 

On the one hand, the sensual and romantic Gerontophilia or even the more nuanced Saint-Narcisse. And in contrast, the very violent – ​​and sexually explicit – L.A. Zombie and the disturbing Otto; or Up with Dead People that leave no one indifferent. Moviegoers can now discover these two faces of the filmmaker since these works are all screened in the metropolis over the next month. 

“When I started, I always tried to surpass myself with each new film, to push my approach further to shock and make people react. I still have that impulse, but I like going to different, sometimes softer areas more,” says Bruce LaBruce.

New film

An example? His new film, The Affairs of Lidia, which he will return to present next month as part of the Festival du nouveau cinema.

The filmmaker explores the fate of a couple whose wife discovers that her husband is having an extra-marital relationship with another man. Sexuality is, of course, omnipresent. But unlike many of Bruce LaBruce's works, it is simulated, rather than shown explicitly. 

Coming out of the screening, some might even be led to believe Canadian would have mellowed over the years. An observation that makes the principal concerned smile.

“Not necessarily”, he says.

“I like to shock, but not at any cost. I think you have to have a message to pass on, a reason to do it. That's why I'm not particularly fond of those horror films, for example, which only seek to arouse disgust,” he explains. 

But even s he is less explicit, his The Affairs of Lidia still managed to offend some moviegoers who discovered it on the road to festivals. The reason ? The filmmaker has hired two pornographic actors who are prominent in the gay scene… but to stage them in heterosexual lovemaking. 

“ I received tons of messages from angry people calling me a traitor. So even in my more tender films, there is always something subversive », lets out Bruce LaBruce laughing.

The retrospective Bruce LaBruce: Tender and Transgressive continues until October 26 at the Cinémathèque québécoise.