Magazine article Screen International


Magazine article Screen International


Article excerpt

Dir: Xavier Dolan. Canada. 2014. 134mins

Five years on from his dazzling debut I Killed My Mother (J'ai Tue Ma Mere), Xavier Dolan provides a captivating companion piece in Mommy that reflects all the maturity he has gained as a filmmaker in the intervening years. This is an altogether richer, warmer exploration of an intense bond between a mother and a son that unfolds with emotional fireworks and bittersweet reflections on love, friendship and the choices we make in life.

Filled with tenderness and compassion, Mommy may well be Dolan's most accomplished film to date.

Knockout performances from a trio of Dolan regulars create vivid, complex characters that sustain us through a rollercoaster ride between extremes of joy and pain. An emphatic return to form after the overwrought theatrics of Tom At The Farm (Tom A La Ferme), Mommy should delight Dolan fans and potentially attract a wider audience to his work.

Dolan claims that I Killed My Mother "centres on a puberty crisis" whilst Mommy is an "existential one". It shows a great deal of compassion and understanding of a mother struggling to cope with an ungovernable teenage son and introduce some hope into a life that only promises to bring heartbreak.

The mother Diane is played by Anne Dorval in a tour de force performance that reminds you of some of Gena Rowlands finest hours under the direction of John Cassavetes. Diane - or Die - is a brassy, foul-mouthed woman, full of attitude and willing to take one more chance on her hyperactive 15 year-old son Steve, played with immense energy and charisma by Antoine Olivier Pilon.

When Steve behaves himself he is bright, charming and adorable. When he doesn't, he is a complete nightmare, raging with anger and resentment. You can see the mother in the son and when they clash it makes George and Martha from Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? look like masters of restraint. …

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