Friday, November 26, 2010

CineCaché #5: I Killed My Mother

Not much to say about this one other than what's in the review. Pretty decent, not great. I'll be interested to see what writer/director Xavier Dolan is capable of a few moves down the road, when he's not so much working with friends and has a chance to practice.

I was actually a little bit surprised by how much I liked it when all was said and done; this movie is one that the Chlotrudis folks have been playing up for a while, along with Dolan himself, and I discounted that opinion a bit. It's only natural - when a group of friends that includes a bunch of gay folks talks about how great the autobiographical film by the young gay filmmaker that they saw at Provincetown is.. Well, you know. To be fair, they probably apply a similar scaling factor to the hard science fiction or science documentaries I come back from Fantasia revved up about.

J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed Your Mother)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 22 November 2010 at the Brattle Theatre (CineCaché)

So, how important is liking a movie's main character to your enjoyment of the movie? That's a question worth asking yourself before sitting down to I Killed My Mother, because while it's not hard to find nice things to say about writer/director/star Xavier Dolan's first film even without mentioning his tender age, the character he wrote for himself is quite the obnoxious little bastard, and knowing that this film is semi-autobiographical may do more to hurt one's impression of the filmmaker than help one's impression of the film.

Hubert Minel (Xavier Dolan) is sixteen, gay, and fights with his mother Chantale (Anne Dorval) at the drop of a hat - and, honestly, the hat does not actually need to fall. Chantale and Hubert's father are long-divorced (Minel père just didn't see himself as the parenting type) and Chantale is, in Hubert's eyes, hopelessly bourgeois. His life really isn't so bad - he's a fairly talented artist who has a nice boyfriend in Antonin (François Arnaud) and an encouraging teacher in Julie (Suzanne Clément), and he thinks he's figured out a way to make things work - he should get an apartment of his own with the money his grandmother has left him in trust. The alternate housing arrangement she comes up with pleases him rather less.

Suffice it to say, Hubert has some growing up to do, and the folks around him don't always make it easy. Stepping back from the movie and looking at it as a whole, that progression of the character is handled rather well. Dolan isn't subtle with how he shows us that Hubert does, in fact, care for his mother despite conflicting feelings (the video diary entry is as close to the writer just handing character information to an audience as you can get, and having it be found is a clumsy plot device), but that fits with the character's tendency to be overdramatic. And we clearly see that said tendency comes from maman; neither she nor any of the supporting characters are an easy-to-emulate example of mature adulthood.

Full review at EFC.

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