It’s inevitable to feel some sort of skepticism and cynicism when watching a film by an internationally acclaimed director that is 25 years old. But after seeing Mommy I think most people can agree that the Cannes golden child, Xavier Dolan is an incredibly promising talent.
The film follows Die, a sexy, fierce widow struggling to raise her violent 15 year old after he’s kicked out of school for vandalizing the cafeteria and injuring a fellow student. Mommy is erratic, loud, and unexpected. A mash of soap opera-drama, new wave collage-like editing, and montages only comparable to music videos, the film presents a stylish aesthetic of filmmaking. Dolan recycles nostalgia (his soundtrack was mostly composed of 90s hits) and explores unconventional art-house elements… yet he does it through a traditional storyline. The Classic Greek Oedipus complex so known in French Cinema, made me immediately connect this film to Le souffle au cœur by Louis Malle. And I have to admit, I was expecting some sort of incest to unfold. I was fortunately proven wrong; the film takes a completely unexpected turn after the second act.
When Kyla, the shy and mysterious neighbor enters their life, Die and Steve finally get close to finding a balance. The friendship that emerges between the three is heartwarming and unexpected. Dolan is known for using many of the same actors throughout his films and this familiarity is very apparent on screen. The acting is definitely worthy of taking ones chapeau off. With the tender age of 17, Antoine Olivier Pilon delivers an energy and vitality to his role that is astonishing; and Suzanne Clément consistently matches his level. One of the most gripping and oddly funny scenes is when they have a tumultuous fight at home, ending in Die breaking a frame on Steve’s face. Looking back on this, the scene lends itself as a foreshadowing of their self-destruction. Mommy closes with a startling violent twist. Like any Greek tragedy, Die and Steve cannot succeed in escaping their tragic fate.
Review By: Lorena Alvarado