Cast: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément, Patrick Huard
139min Drama Canadian/French
The prolific outpourings of Canadian wild child Xavier Dolan continue here with a searingly emotional mother/son melodrama that way outstays its welcome at over two hours. MOMMY is a reverse thrust of his debut J’Ai Tué Ma Mère that had the young Dolan at odds with his mother (made when he was only 20). Here it’s Mummy that’s mean and ready to kill but with love as the weapon.
Based on a plotline relating to Canadian Juvenile Law in an imagined near future in Quebec, raunchy single mother – played by regular collaborator Anne Dorval – decides to take her ADHD-suffering teenage son out of the place that was treating him for delinquency. In order to avoid more draconian institutionalisation, she elects to work from home, compromising her cleaning job, to care for him ‘inhouse’. Diane loves her only son Steve with a passion in this gut-wrenching saga that plays out in a series of expletive-ridden exchanges and violent outbursts. Needy and attention-seeking Steve resents her interactions with other males but their lives are changed collectively and individually by two neighbours. The first is Paul, who is sexually attracted to Diane as he tries to help Steve through the complex legal arena. Kyla (Suzanne Clément), the second, is a lonely married mother on sabbatical while she deals with her own emotional issues, and the trio engage in a co-dependent friendship, that is particularly beneficial to Steve, with some unexpected consequences for all concerned.
Filmed in an aspect ratio that makes the screen “portrait” shaped – intended by Dolan to enhance the restricted outlooks of its protagonists – MOMMY feels at times over-intimate and ‘in yer face’ with its close-ups, occasionally making you desperate to gain arms length from its brilliantly visceral yet uncomfortable perspective. At times poignantly funny, this is a chaotic drama and Antoine Olivier Pilon’s turn as Steve is dynamite – if you can take it, this is cinema at its most raw. MT
REVIEWED AT CANNES 2014 | OUT ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 27 MARCH 2015 | NOW ON DVD