My review of the harrowing and brilliant 'Mommy" directed by Xavier Dolan.

Glib reviews Of recent movies - Theatrical release edition.

- Directed By Xavier Dolan

Holy cow, my second Xavier Dolan directed film in less than a week. This one in a very different way is just as intense as “Tom at the Farm.” Dolan is not acting in Mommy,” but young actor Antoine Olivier Pilon is mesmerizing as a charismatic and good hearted but violent and very troubled modern teenager. 

Anne Dorval, a veteran of all of Dolan’s directorial efforts (and more Quebec TV than Roy Dupuis) except the aforementioned Tom at the Farm deserves recognition beyond Canada and Quebec. This is one of the great performances in recent cinema; her crusty hard bitten single mom (recent widow) trying to keep a sense of self while raising her larger than life son, whose enthusiasm is only slightly more infectious than the violence that follows him around like a smiling but feral puppy.

The odd conceit, given to us at the beginning of the film is that it takes place a few years from now, where a new law allowing parents of such troubled youth can legally give their children to the state to ‘look after.’ This chilling bit of ‘realistic in Canada’ fiction sits in the backseat of the entire ride the film takes you on, and pokes you in the back of the head. How far will ‘Mommy’ (Diane, nicknamed “Die” rather than Di.) let things spiral out her grasping control before she has no choice but to ‘give away’ her parental rights to the government.

The direction and script are self assured and keep you glued to the screen as your eyes leak pretty much of their own accord. A visceral hard to watch kitchen sink drama, easily compared to the work of Ken Loach or Joseph Losey, (or maybe more appropriately, Claude Jutra) but with a very modern French sense of style and pathos. The characters have so much pathos in fact that those moments of beauty that they each manage to have make you cry almost as easily as the inevitable loss upon loss.

Suzanne Clement also shines as the stuttering (and very realistically so) neighbour, a teacher from Quebec City with a dark secret of her own, who becomes the best friend that either Diane, or Steve have ever had. She fights her own battles with each, but doesn’t give up her own darkness as she experiences theirs on top of it. 

We are left wanting more of her story, as if Die, and Steve’s journey isn’t harrowing enough. Bring tissues, and a friend to cry/talk about this film with if you get to see it. 

As I said in my review of ‘Tom at the Farm,’ Dolan is at the top of his game. I cannot recommend this film highly enough, but be warned, it is heavy beyond belief almost.

9.5 French swear words that are both beautiful and horrible to hear 10


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