*Feluette: Quebec expression with its root in the word fluet, (thin, frail in appearance) which, in common parlance of the time, referred to men who were weak, frail, or effeminate.
Bishop Bilodeau comes to hear the last confession of old Simon, who he knew in the past. The confession is but a pretext for an elaborate hoax. Simon and his fellow inmates force the bishop to watch a performance depicting the events that led to Simon’s incarceration.
Episode 1 – Collège de Roberval, 1912 – school theatre
Young Simon and Count Vallier de Tilly, nicknamed Feluette (Lily White), rehearse a scene from The Martyr of Saint Sebastian by Gabriele D’Annunzio under the critical eye of the stage director, Father Saint Michel. Left alone, Vallier stays in character and sings of his love for Simon. The bishop reacts strongly. The young Bilodeau interrupts the two boys’ moment of intimacy, threatening to expose them. A furious Simon violently kisses Bilodeau. Vallier’s mother enters and applauds, thinking she has just witnessed a scene from the play. Simon and Bilodeau run off. The countess tells Vallier that Lydie-Anne De Rozier, who has just recently arrived from Paris, has brought news from her husband who intends to come get them. Vallier dreams of taking Simon to Paris. Seeing Father Saint-Michel, the countess praises the kissing scene. Timothée, outraged to learn that his son Simon has kissed a boy, sets off to find him. Bilodeau points the way.
Interlude. Somewhere, a few days later.
Vallier writes a letter to Simon.
Episode 2 – On the terrace at Hôtel Roberval – One week later
Baron de Hüe, a doctor on holiday, advises Simon about the injuries on his back, wanting to know what caused them. Simon lies. Lydie-Anne de Rozier, captivated by Simon’s charms, works her way into the conversation. Vallier tries to figure out why Simon is avoiding him. Lydie-Anne tells Simon how she lied to Vallier’s mother, and he ridicules the countess’s foibles. Vallier is furious. Left alone, Simon tells him of the whipping he received because of the countess’s gossiping. He no longer wants to see Vallier. He must only think of girls from now on. Vallier, tearing up his letter to Simon, runs off. Lydie-Anne seduces Simon. The outraged bishop protests.
Episode 3 – The countess and Vallier’s home – several weeks later
A fire at a convent is in the news. The countess imagines herself dancing a waltz with her absent husband. Vallier admits to her that he has taken a job to help them make ends meet. Furious at the idea that an aristocrat has to work, she calls him a coward. To Vallier, all men are cowards. The countess has read the letter Vallier tore up, believing it to be a love letter to his father. Vallier sees the fire as a message from Simon and confesses his love for him to his mother. The countess orders him to go to Simon and Lydie-Anne’s engagement party.
Episode 4 – The ballroom at Hôtel Roberval – end of summer
At the engagement party, Lydie-Anne makes fun of the countess, but Simon brings her into line. She then reminds him of his lack of attention to her. Simon reassures her. Suddenly, Vallier enters, dressed as Emperor Caesar, and invites Simon to perform a scene from The Martyr of Saint Sebastian. Timothée asks that Vallier be thrown out. The party descends into chaos. Distraught, Lydie-Anne confesses to the countess that she indeed did meet her husband but that he is not coming for her; he has remarried and is the father of two girls. Lydie-Anne and Simon are to leave Roberval at dawn. Bilodeau, alone, curses God for abandoning him in his quest for Simon, and sets fire to Lydie-Anne’s hot-air balloon.
The bishop protests but old Simon shows off his source—the bishop’s personal diary.
Episodes 5 and 6 – In the forest – the next day
The countess gives Vallier a bathtub for his birthday. Vallier, sitting in his bath, greets imaginary guests. Simon arrives. The countess leaves them alone. Simon awkwardly extends his wishes to Vallier, intending to bid him farewell. He ends up confessing his love for him. They embrace. The countess returns and asks them to continue the story of Saint Sebastian.
The countess, in the background, finally gives in to her anguish. Vallier joins her. She asks her son to help her bring her life to an end. Vallier resists, but ends up agreeing and killing her. After Simon and Vallier leave, Bilodeau blesses and spits on the countess’s corpse.
Episode 7 – Collège de Roberval – school theatre – the next day
Vallier wakes up in Simon’s arms. Bilodeau joins them: he has arranged for them to flee. As a token of affection, he gives Simon his diary and asks him for a kiss, like that of the saint to his friend. Simon refuses and throws him out. Simon makes a pact to die with Vallier, and sets the place on fire.
Epilogue – Prison
Bishop Bilodeau, flustered and defeated, explains how he pulled Simon out of the fire and abandoned Vallier, as a punishment for Simon’s insult. Knowing he was in prison, obsessed with him, was his consolation. Old Simon and the prisoners, knives in hand, surround the bishop.
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