BFI London Film Festival 2014: Mommy

by Maryann O'Connor on 16/10/2014


French Canadian director Xavier Dolan (Tom at the Farm, 2013) likes to delve into difficult scenarios and Mommy most definitely contains a difficult scenario or two. Set in the very near future in Canada, Diane (Die) played by Anne Dorval, is struggling to make ends meet and keep her son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), who has ADHD, out of trouble. His next stop will be prison if he doesn’t fix up tout de suite. Steve has just come home from a juvenile correction facility when they become friends with next door neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément), a teacher on sabbatical who has issues of her own to add to the melting pot.

Anne Dorval is a superstar as Die. The two of them make an irresistible pairing, so likeable and humorous even with the anger always boiling just below Steve’s surface. Antoine-Olivier Pilon plays Steve just right, so human but only a bit more flawed than most of us. His heart is enormous.

At times of upset in the film, the black screen creeps in, enclosing the three characters in their world of hurt but similarly the black screen disappears altogether when they are enjoying life, grabbing that brief bit of joy while they can. You are well aware that they are careering into a black abyss but it is all still hopeful, even when plunged into darkness. The score will take you back some years and adds an extra level of poignancy to the portrayal of the struggle in these lives.

Dolan is one of those directors that make you desperate to see their next film even as the credits are rolling on their current film; these characters, lovingly created, strike you as the sort which in a Hollywood film might just be the sideshow or the villains, or the people that the main hero/es have to save, but here they are real and just as deserving of our time if not more so.

Maryann has awarded Mommy four Torches of Truth

4 torches


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