By Owen Gleiberman
Updated June 16, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

The characters in Denys Arcand’s kink-comedy soap opera, Love and Human Remains, include a suavely moody gay waiter (Thomas Gibson) who prides himself on believing that love doesn’t exist; his roommate and former lover, a book critic (Ruth Marshall) who’s so fed up with men that, simply as an experiment, she drifts into an affair with a cuddly lesbian (Joanne Vannicola); a yuppie civil servant (Cameron Bancroft) who lies about getting laid every night and stares longingly at the women he’s too self-obsessed to talk to; a dreamy rich kid (Matthew Ferguson) who’d like nothing more than to be the waiter’s plaything; and a kittenish dominatrix (Mia Kirshner) who snorts heroin, has psychic powers, and looks 14. One of these drifting souls, incidentally, is a serial killer. Now do you feel normal?

Hardly anyone in Love and Human Remains even bothers to act like a functional heterosexual, and that in itself ought to tell you something — that the film’s exploration of love in the age of ”expanded lifestyle options” is really a snarky way of showing off. Arcand, the Canadian director of The Decline of the American Empire and Jesus of Montreal, is quite the show-off, all right, but he’s also an instinctive entertainer. In Love and Human Remains, he has a daffy good time sending his characters through chic erotic hoops; I found myself not minding the fact that these people are, in essence, walking lifestyle features (You and Your Gay Roommate, Why Guys Like to Brag, Is Heterosexuality Overrated?) drawn from the pages of Cosmo. Following her come-hither performance in Exotica (which was made eight months before this film), Mia Kirshner seems harmlessly cute here, but two of the actors reverberate: Gibson, who gives his queer wisecracks a sting of regret, and Ferguson, who plays the shaggy-dog teen explorer with an angelic passivity that indicates the groovy ’70s are alive and well and living in Quebec. B