NZIFF: My Top Tips to watch French-Speaking Movies #2 Mommy

Mommy  by Xavier Dolan

* Heartbreaking *

What’s about? :

Steve, a teenage boy suffering from ADHD is kicked out of a specialized school after having caused some important troubles. His eccentric mum, Diane – also named ironically Die – takes him back home: as soon as they’re back together, their mother-son explosive relationship starts again. Their neighbour, Kyla, will soon balance the tempestuous duo. Ex-teacher recovering from a serious nervous breakdown, she takes care of Steve and becomes a member of the family. The three of them will share love & pain, but till which point?

Mommy- Key Still Photo Credit Shayne Laverdiäre-credit

Why do I like it?

Everyone cried at the Premiere of Mommy in Cannes last year. All my journalists friends were emotionally touched by prolific director Xavier Dolan’s 5th feature. The film generates so many contradictory feelings. You’ll love it or hate it. You’ll cry or laugh, and even both at the same time. If you’re looking for rollercoaster emotions, this film is for you! If you’re not, you’ll be shocked by the exuberant style of Canadian prodigy of filmmaking. Dolan’s touch is baroque! You even have the feeling he’d like to defy the gods with such a film.

His filmmaking is terribly excessive, in every way. The music from the 90s is the kitschiest one you’ll ever listen to. The confrontations between the protagonists are highly colourful. The language is crude. The ratio is 1:1 because it’s more intimate, so he says… But the young Canadian filmmaker articulates all these elements powerfully. His creative urge is radical: that’s how he succeeds in creating one of these organic movies that contains life in itself.

In Mommy, Dolan directs the same female actors as in his first feature I Killed My Mother: Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément, who are both very good actresses. However, this time, it’s different. Even if Dolan tackles with the same subject – a Oedipal mother-son relationship – he shifts from a biographical drama film to a mature piece of art. He still digs into his own personal pains to find inspiration, but he distances himself from its subject. He doesn’t play the main role anymore. Antoine-Olivier Pilon does – with brio!

Some people find this film arrogant, eccentric. Yes, that’s why it’s baroque to my eyes. It’s not perfect, it’s still irregular in shape. But it’s a portrait of souls that makes you feel like they do.

Selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in Cannes 2014 Main Competition Section, Mommy won the Jury Grand Prize equally ranked with Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard. One of the eldest influent directors of our time awarded at the same time as the youngest one: The symbol is strong. Cinema must look forward, without forgetting the past.

Sally Welly