Posted on January 29 2015
By Serena Belcastro
Have you seen the film Mommy? It’s by the multifaceted movie prodigy and winner of the jury prize at last year’s Cannes film festival, Xavier Dolan. I saw it two days ago during the retrospective dedicated to his movies at the Cineteca Italiana of Milan’s Spazio Oberdan. A heart-wrenching story, I left the screening feeling overwhelmed by emotions.
A saturated cinematography – a nod to the MTV generation of the ‘90s – sublimated by an unusual 1:1 aspect ratio and with a soundtrack packed with super pop songs; the suburban setting along with the kitschy costumes that represent the characteristics of its inhabitants; the Quebec French spoken by the characters – this mix of seemingly over-the-top elements is the background for a story of intense pain, told with disarming realism and a poetical bluntness.
Since the very first minute, you feel like you are sucked into the emotional vortex of the all-absorbing love between a mother, Diane, a.k.a. DIE (Anne Dorval), and her son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon), suffering from ADHD, together with the healing and consoling presence of a special neighbor, Kyla (Suzanne Clément). A whirlwind of emotions, in a precarious balance between the hope for a better, “normal” life, and the awareness of our loneliness in a world soaked in hypocrisy and apparent order.
When the protagonist ideally slices open the screen – temporarily widening our view to a 16:9 ratio – in one of the rare moments when Steve can finally taste his own freedom, on the notes of Oasis’s “Wonderwall” (the anthem for a generation of kids, which today are young adults, bewildered and seeking salvation just like Steve) form and artifice become one with the story. The following climax will last for the duration of the movie.
I believe this movie is a contemporary masterpiece, and I urge you to see it. It will be screened again here in Milan, in the original version with Italian subtitles, on January 30th and February 1st, last day of the retrospective, which also includes the other critically acclaimed movies by Dolan: Tom à La Farme, Les Amours Imaginaires, Laurence Anyways and J’ai tué ma mère.
In the US: