Mommy: A Review

“Few [films] changed my life in the way that The Piano did.” Those were the words of the 25 year-old Canadian director Xavier Dolan in honor to Jane Campion, during his speech at the Cannes Film Festival last year. And one could assert that this could also be said for the film he was presenting and that won the Jury Prize, Mommy.

This 5th film from the young director thrilled the critics from its release and we can understand why: the concentration of tension and emotion feels like a bomb which we are afraid will explode at any time.

Diane Després (Anne Dorval) is asked to take care of her son Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon), who has ADHD and is a violent teenager, even burning the cafeteria of the institutionalization in which he was placed. Diane, recently widowed and raising Steve alone, will be helped by her neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clément) with whom the family will try to build a new hope and harmony together.

The film is firstly a visual wonder; Xavier Dolan plays with the images, the colours, and the lighting. From the beginning, we are blown away by such aesthetics.  Yet it is done without putting the acting roles at a disadvantage that could appear rigid if the image is too polished. But that does not happen. The framing is also very particular and typical of the director: during most of the film, the characters are shown in a square 1:1 aspect ratio, reminding us of our old childhood Polaroid, but particularly giving the impression that they are trapped and locked up in the frame, impeaching any form of hope whatsoever. Nevertheless, this way of shooting can also give access to a tricky yet brilliant idea halfway through the film.

Dolan is obsessed with feminine roles and especially the figure of the mother and shows it once again, better than ever, in Mommy. Anne Dorval is extraordinary in this role; in Quebec, Canada, her character nicknamed Die, with her very strong accent –being myself a French native speaker, I had to read the English subtitles to understand the dialogue- tries everything she can to build a new relationship with her hyperactive son. The film alternates with glimpses of hope and moments of extreme violence and despondency, with no rest at all for the viewer. But that is why it is so powerful and interesting to watch. We feel compassion, we feel sympathy, have tears in our eyes, are impressed, but we also smile, laugh, hope with the protagonists, feel happy and free in some moments. We end up nailed to the spot, completely perturbed and stunned, but very pleased with the experience.



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  1. A Focus on... Xavier Dolan - Un Certain Regard - The Hippo Collective Magazine

    […] Mommy is Xavier Dolan’s latest film and definitely to me the most accomplished and representative of his cinema. The cast of actors is incredible, the images, colours and light are absolutely beautiful, and the script is masterfully brought to the screen for the enjoyment of the viewers. It earned Dolan the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival along with Jean-Luc Godard in 2014, and his speech, addressing his generation (that is, the youth) was just incredibly true and sincere, his words being the type to really make you want to “get up and go”, fulfill your dreams and change the world (so I’ll let you go and look it up by yourself if you’re interested !). As for Mommy, you can also read a full review just here. […]

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