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Mommy is written and directed by Xavier Dolan which won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival 2014.
It tells the story of Diane ‘Die’ Després played exceptionally well by Anne Dorval, her very troubled son Steve and mysterious neighbour Kyla. The opening titles sets out Dolan’s quasi sci-fi political statement that in a future Canadian election would revoke the fictionalised S-14 law that allows parents to have their children sectioned without due process. The film starts with Die picking up her son from another institutionalised boarding school where he set fire to another child. In one of my favourite scenes from the film the outstanding Anne Dorval with deliciously wicked humour responds to the headmistress asking her does she actually speak French when she fails to show the appropriate reaction to the grave act her son has committed: “Yes I speak French maybe not French from France but I speak French”. She may not be dressed in a very maternal way but this is the tale of a woman who has lost everything including being widowed but she is not giving up on her son.
There is irony in the way Die and Steve’s oedipus type relationship is laid bare for all to see yet the converse is true of the mysterious neighbour Kyla who is on an enforced sabbatical from teaching due to a dark secret and her odd family situation that is never revealed.
The cinematography is majestic. The montage of what Die wishes for her son and the scene in which Steve wakes up in the car and the rain lashing against the window is wonderful storytelling with no use of words just the sound of rain to tell of the imminent foreboding – very Greek tragedy!
Like his previous films and I think of Les Amours Imaginaires – Dolan has created very strong alpha female characters so much so that the men look weak in comparison. It is a joy to see Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément on screen giving life to these strong, interesting and interested female characters.
Xavier Dolan is still only 25 years old and his style is evolving and for some this film will be drama with a capital D and a little too much but for me it epitomises what film making truly is: storytelling, imagery and engaging the viewer’s heart and mind from start to finish.