Alexe and Carl are pre-gaming at her place before meeting up with their friends at a bar. Alexe just transitioned, and this boozy evening might change the dynamics of their friendship forever as the two decide to have “no strings attached” sex. In Pre-Drink, Marc-Antoine Lemire paints an intimate portrait of friendship, love and our relationship to desire, through the experience of his central character. A unique story, carried to the screen by two wonderful performances, the director and his crew do an impressive job of making this particular situation feel universal.
Writing the first words of Pre-Drink, Lemire instantly had Alexe’s character in mind. Motivated to build a story around loneliness, Lemire wanted to center his film on a complex and layered character, without it being the driving force of the film. Alexe is at a point in her life where she feels a bit disconnected and has complicated feelings with desire coming from other people. Her current state of mind makes her feel lonely and dysphoria seems inevitable. Lemire also wanted to explore feelings and psychology through the sexuality lens, giving room to everything other than the act itself, with a micro perspective on Alexe’s experience.
Though Pre-Drink depicts a very specific situation, Lemire succeeds at making an extremely relatable film about two human beings. It is impossible not to empathize with Alexe, and ultimately the intimacy in their relationship, the trust between the two and the playfulness in this situation adds a real level of authenticity to the film. The realistic approach to their pre-gaming hang is disarming, it’s messy, awkward and Lemire does not shy away from flaws and imperfections.
While Pascalle Drevillon (Alexe) was involved during the writing process, the casting process for Pre-Drink was very long and it took Lemire some time to realize she was going to be the Alexe he wrote. The film relies heavily on the performances of its leads and the complicity and intimacy of Alexe and Carl needed to be portrayed by two actors who shared a strong chemistry.
Once Alex Trahan was casted as Carl, the process did not speed up. Adamant about building a strong relationship and trust with his actors, that would translate to a sense of intimacy on screen, Lemire, Drevillon and Trahan rehearsed for a very long time. There is no improvisation, every word was carefully written and every move was choreographed. I found Drevillon especially compelling in the end, when the audience, as much as her character, is given a moment to take it all in, and we see her communicating all her mixed feelings through her eyes.
Pre-Drink had its world premiere at TIFF in 2017 where it was awarded Best Canadian Short. After a successful festival career, we are happy to host its online debut. Writer/director Lemire is currently working on a new short film and his debut feature.