Metro Weekly

The Montréal-Based ‘Solo’ Gives Good Drag (Review)

The Montréal set gay romantic drama "Solo" is a poignant -- if predictable -- tale of two performers in love.

Solo: Théodore Pellerin - Photo: Music Box Films
Solo: Théodore Pellerin – Photo: Music Box Films

The queens are fighting, fucking, partying, and serving fierce performances at the spirited Montréal drag bar centered in Sophie Dupuis’ award-winning drama Solo.

At the bar is where Simon (Théodore Pellerin) meets Olivier (Félix Maritaud), and love takes over. Newly arrived from Paris, Olivier performs as La Dragona, a punk-styled genderfuck queen, who makes her debut at the club with an alluringly cocky lip-sync to an ice-cold electro track. Welcomed by his fellow performers with champagne and a night out after the show, Olivier immediately catches Simon’s eye.

Simon is the bar’s leggy diva Glory Gore, introduced in a reverie of androgyny, with a scene that cuts between Glory performing Abba’s “Voulez-Vous,” and Simon dancing his heart out to the song with his friends at a club.

The idea is that, in or out of drag, this is Simon, and he’s full of life and joy either way. Pellerin, who also starred in Dupuis’ 2018 directorial debut Family First, inhabits Glory Gore as an exciting and credible drag persona that is but one dimension of Simon, the person.

And, despite the fact that Pellerin hadn’t done drag before, and had to learn to walk in heels for the role, Glory’s performances consistently are the film’s most engaging. It helps that the soundtrack is so well-chosen, the costumes are lovely, and the cinematography and editing (especially the sound editing) capture the buzz and bounce of letting loose at your local bar.

The script, by Dupuis, also conveys the deeper motivations underlying Simon’s passion for performing. At least in part, he pursues his art, and takes to the stage, to feel closer to his distant, basically absent, opera diva mother, Claire (Anne-Marie Cadieux). She left for Europe 15 years ago for her career, and apparently never looked back.

Now, Simon watches YouTube videos of her performances, fascinated from afar by her talent and star quality. And he’s over the moon when he learns she’ll be in Montréal for a run of performances, and that she wants to see him and his sister Maude (Alice Moreault). A fashion designer who often makes outfits for Glory Gore, Maude has no interest in reconnecting with their mother. “I’ve got nothing to say to that woman,” she says.

The film posits selfish soprano Claire and new boyfriend Olivier as the two seemingly caring but toxic loves in Simon’s life whom he’s desperate to please. While both plotlines are well-acted, particularly by Pellerin and Moreault, the narrative is hampered by the fact we can see where things are headed long before Simon catches up to the story.

Solo: Félix Maritaud and Théodore Pellerin - Photo: Music Box Films
Solo: Félix Maritaud and Théodore Pellerin – Photo: Music Box Films

Although, with Olivier, maybe Simon can’t keep up because the plot is so rushed. Following their first night of bonding on the dance floor, and under the falling snow, the pair jump ahead, via montage, to living and creating together. At that point, Olivier instantly becomes needy, controlling, and quietly hostile towards Maude.

Even as the two team up as a double act at the bar, with Simon giddy to have found his artistic soulmate, the red flags are flapping so wildly, it’s hard to invest in their partnership. Then, their honeymoon phase progresses to drug-fueled partying and infidelity. Sex, thus, becomes part of the conflict, though sexiness isn’t relayed by the few brief love scenes.

Where Solo feels sexy is at the bar whenever the spotlight hits Glory. Notably, she’s offstage for the film’s one true dud performance, a cheesy, fists-in-the-air political drag number that doesn’t live up to the rapturous response it receives from the audience in the scene.

Conversely, Glory bombs in a performance that probably would have slayed an actual audience who recognized her talent and exquisitely good taste.

Solo (★★★☆☆) is playing in select theaters nationwide, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Orlando, with additional cities coming soon. It will be available to stream on June 25 on Apple TV+. To see if it’s playing near you, visit

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