Mommy Review (TIFF2014)

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia


Canada’s darling Xavier Dolan has delved into the fragile ecosystem of freedom and family in his latest feature “Mommy (14)”. Winner of the Cannes 2014 Jury prize, Dolan’s latest work poses a simple question: is it better to live free and suffer the consequences or play it safe and maintain control? His film has garnered a lot of buzz abroad, and now comes home to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF14).

“Mommy” tells the story of a turbulent relationship between mother and son. Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pion) is a wild child with ADHD and his mother Diana (Anne Dorval) is struggling at the mercy of poor decisions and a hard life. Forever surrounded by troubled men, Diana strives to take control back by caring for Steve as best she can.

Diana removes Steve from a government institution care facility to try and get his life back on track. In her care, under her roof, on their terms, Diana strives to salvage their life together. Steve was put into the institution because he committed a violent crime at school and now they are on the run, so to speak. Trouble is never too far from either of them.

Kyla (Suzanne Clement) their curious next door neighbor joins the fold as she attempts to help right Steve’s path by home schooling him. The three form an unlikely trio of misfits, looking to find what’s missing in their lives.

Jarring, fragile, tenacious, young, immature, full of hormones. All of these describe the complex character of Steve. He certainly steals the show. Both Dolan and Steve put us in Diane’s shoes, as we both love and hate him simultaneously. It’s what makes him so compelling.

The film also uses technical elements to help convey meaning throughout the story. Although a little heavy handed at times, much like the score, Dolan’s experimentation with aspect ratio convey the feelings of his characters. It’s an interesting touch and display a well thought out way to connect with his audience in a new way.

Dolan is touted as a phenom and moments of this film live up to that hype. Specifically where Steve is allowed to roam free. He is a loose canon and sometimes has a heart of gold. He has a moment of pure bliss with a shopping cart that was awe inspiring. A memorable moment in cinema for sure.

“Mommy” is a good film. When it’s right it’s brilliant. However, there are some performance beats that miss the mark. The film definitely stays with you after you’ve left the theatre. Dolan has a bright future for such a young and credited filmmaker. See our review of Dolan’s gripping thriller ‘Tom A La Ferme’ here:

Chris Murphy

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