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  • Five months ago, I had no idea who Xavier Dolan was. Now, after watching 'Mommy', I have no hesitation in saying that he's one of most talented artists to have come into prominence in the past few years.

    What director and writer Xavier Dolan, who is 25, achieves with 'Mommy' is quite spectacular. Not only does he manage to impress with top-notch directorial skills and an impressive and complex understanding of human relationships, but he has successfully accomplished the ultimate goal of a filmmaker: transmitting emotions -- pure, unaltered feelings.

    I was never a supporter of the idea of re-watching films; I thought that by re-watching a movie, you would lose precious time that could have been used to watch a potentially even better film. However, 'Mommy' has completely destroyed this concept for me. Leaving the cinema room, I had a sense of restlessness that went away only after watching it for the second time. And guess what? The feelings the film transmitted remained as fresh and relevant as they were the first time.

    There are a myriad of aspects that are worth discussing when referring to this film: the fabulous actors, the impressive use of music, the clever use of colors, the numerous jaw-dropping cinematography-related details and the variety of raw feelings 'Mommy' explores. But, by analyzing each of these aspects in detail, you may risk to experience a film whose surprises will not be as poignant as they would be by discovering them yourself.

    I can safely say that 'Mommy' left an indelible mark on me. Its honesty, the beauty it exudes and its life-affirming tone make for an enthralling chef d'oeuvre that will undoubtedly have a certain effect on whoever decides to watch it.

    To sum up, 'Mommy' manages to do what an important piece of art does: communicate authentic feelings. And, for this, I am grateful. Bravo, Dolan!
  • Wow! I was left with tears and emotional instability after watching this film. I mean this in the best way possible of course. I've never been so emotionally AND PHYSICALLY moved by a film. Mommy is so powerful and touching in so many ways because it captures a lot of problems, turmoils, and emotions that we all experience. In fact, it didn't feel like I was watching a film. I felt like I was living with these characters and experiencing everything they were going through. Laughing with the characters during their happiest moments, crying with the characters through their darkest times, and feeling frightened of what would happen next were all sentiments I felt throughout the film. This brings me to one of the most amazing aspects of the film-the acting.

    The acting was absolutely superb! Everyone was terrific. The three main characters depicted by Anne Dorval, Suzanne, Clément, and Antoine Olivier Pilon were so engaging and compelling. They WERE their characters. I didn't feel like I was watching actors acting-it was so real! Bravo to all the whole cast!

    The cinematography was breathtakingly beautiful. Xavier Dolan films are always a treat because they are all so visually stunning. Dolan captures many of the activities we do such as dancing with our family and friends, falling onto our beds, riding our bikes/longboards, and karaoking so majestically. Dolan is truly talented.

    I was very excited to see Mommy for the longest time and I was not disappointed. I was transported to a different, magical, yet realistic world. I want to thank everyone involved in the production of Mommy. It was extremely powerful and so painfully relatable. I think about this film everyday and still get emotional. The soundtrack was lovely-I listen to it everyday and the songs evoke so much more meaning now. EVERYBODY, GO WATCH MOMMY!
  • Anne Dorval is far and away the best actress I have had the pleasure to watch in the past couple years. She was solid in J'ai tuer ma mere. She is explosive in Mommy! I haven't written a review yet but her performance encouraged me to do so. Antoine-Olivier Pilon was great, and Suzanne Clement was also top notch.

    I've never been so deeply affected by a movie. I went back and forth between laughter and tears throughout the entire movie. There were several scenes that I related to....

    Something that really resonated with me was the scenes where the 3 main characters were laughing, dancing, enjoying life. I personally have a hard time remembering the moments in my life where I was truly happy. I believe that is because in those moments I was so deeply immersed in conversation and laughter that my brain was incapable of creating a memory. While watching Mommy I wasn't able to remember those moments in my life but I was able to make the connection because the performances and script were so realistic. Thank you Xavier Dolan! Waiting for more...
  • People who know Xavier Dolan know what they're walking into when they buy a ticket for Mommy. While he has a loyal fanbase that seems to grow more passionate about him by each film, some don't like him at all. This is my first of his films and I can immediately see the case for both sides. However, as Mommy is being called his most mature work yet, I take pause to imagine how infantile his previous films are as this has its moments of worrisome juvenility, though the 'mature' moments have a gutsy weight. At only 25 years old and on his 5th film in as many years, there's a cathartic energy to the way he approaches cinema that is quite refreshing to see. He throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks. Some of it does, but I regret to say, much of it doesn't, and what falls off drags the film down.

    Frequent headliner for Dolan's previous films and having starred in 4 of the 5, Mommy stars Anne Dorval as the titular character Diane 'Die' Despres, in a whirlwind performance of tantalizing vigor and sensitivity. She's a widowed single mother who takes her thuggish son Steve, played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon, back home after his time runs out at a delinquent center due to an incident where he caused another boy to be seriously burned. Arguments in their house always escalate to the point of violence, but they find solace in bonding with their stuttering but kind-hearted (with a lioness bouncing inside) neighbor Kyla, enticingly played by Suzanne Clement, who begins to tutor Steve so he can have the potential for a future.

    Immediately you can feel Dolan's hand ready to sculpt the film beyond reason. It begins as an unnecessary fantasy set next year with a fictional law to serve the plot. Perhaps it needs this disconnection from reality. It's wired with high-strung melodrama that escalates outrageously. Granted, that is the point of the film, that a little spark can ignite a forest fire, but it crosses a line where it ceases to be involving or convincing, and nor is it darkly comical. At first it's difficult to invest in the film, the characters are so unlikeable and unsympathetic, victims of their own tempers and ignorance. Dorval wins you over handedly, channeling Marisa Tomei better than Tomei herself. She's grounded enough to make the drama work. However, Pilon overdoes the irritation to the point where you sincerely don't wish him to succeed and that's a major problem with the performance and the way Dolan treats him. It's unbearably obnoxious.

    But when it's finally toned down in the tense calms before or after the storm, it's really great. It's thoroughly embroiling, enrapturing and heart-breaking drama, or a complete joy depending on the scene. That's the flipside of a film that's heightened to 11 on either end of the scale. It was constantly losing me and winning me back. Eventually, the losses were weaker and the wins were stronger. Sometimes the stylistic indulgences were enjoyable and added to the tone. Otherwise they disrupt the flow of the film entirely, with the use of slow motion, out of focus shots and unnecessary interludes of music videos. Those of which were poorly chosen iconic tracks that I can't tell whether Dolan actually knows how done to death and unsalvageable the Dido and Oasis songs are for instance. He exercises zero restraint – but he does not care. There's somewhat of a charm to his contrarianism.

    What's most fascinating about the film and what particularly sets it apart given the familiarity of this type of melodrama is the aspect ratio. It's boxed in at an unusual 1:1, imprisoning the characters so they feel crushed by the weight of the stresses of their personalities and consequences of their actions. It occasionally breaks free of it when hope floods back into their lives. It's an incredibly expressive way to use the space of a frame, much more emotional than the intellectual way Wes Anderson did it this year for The Grand Budapest Hotel. As such with a melodrama, the cinematography is vibrant with alluring colour, making good use of that voyeuristic box we watch the story from. Fortunately, when Mommy hits the sweet spot, it's utterly overwhelming. Dorval is the only consistent aspect in an unashamedly bloated, indulgent and messy film. It could be too polarizing to be a serious contender for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, but a nomination remains to be seen.


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  • Not what I expected. It's a film that features quite a lot of dark elements, but the film somehow manages to be really touching in such an odd, but effective way. I don't think it's flawless. The script has a few cracks here and there, and it sometimes feels a bit aimless in what it's trying to say. I also very much enjoyed Dolan's directorial touches, but many times they're a bit jarring and too stylistic for its own good. However, what I will not at all criticize is that 4-minute sequence near the beginning of its third act (you know which one). That glorious score with those images created a profoundly moving sequence, one of the most emotionally powerful scenes of the year. But that's how a lot of the film is. I liked it a lot, but it can feel like many great individual scenes and yet not as cohesive as a whole

    The acting here is phenomenal though. The three leads and the places they go to are harrowing and they probably rise the material greatly. The ending was a bit too obvious and not very original, but I'll take it

    Not as enamored with it as most, but I still found it to be a truly incredible experience that is no doubt so inherently interesting and entertaining, much like the only other Dolan film I've seen Tom at the Farm.
  • In a Montreal suburb, a single mother with financial and employment difficulties reunites with her violent teenage son who is being released from a detention centre. More chaos ensues.

    It would be very tempting to call this film a "kitchen sink drama". There are many explosive scenes which are cathartic. Most films would have only a few such scenes, maybe only one at the climactic finale. While the catharsis might seem too much, every one of those scenes works well because of the great talent of director Xavier Dolan and his equally talented cast.

    There are thankfully lighter scenes that show the love in the dysfunctional family and their ability to have fun especially as they are joined by a mysterious neighbour across the street, Kyla, who seems to have her own troubles. Her troubles seem lessened as she bonds with the unusual mother-son duo. Kyla's situation seems a bit too mysterious at times. As a subplot, it could have used a few hints to tap viewers further into the reasons why she prefers the family across the street to her own.

    The film's greatest strengths are two scenes near the end. One is the perfectly executed climactic scene. The other is the one that follows - a very melancholy scene of transition with which most viewers could sadly identify.

    As mentioned, Dolan has directed a superb cast. As the troubled teenager, Antoine Olivier Pilon has the perfect balance of rage and vulnerability. As the neighbour Kyla, Suzanne Clément is very believable as someone facing change and loosening up especially when she has fits of uncontrollable laughter. As the mother, Anne Dorval gives Dolan another superb performance as she did with "I Killed My Mother" (2009). Her range in the final two pivotal scenes display true brilliance. - dbamateurcritic

    RATING: 9/10

    OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT: Performance by Anne Dorval
  • "What does anyone want but to feel a little more free." Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

    Mommy is a film about extraordinary, ordinary people. Individual scenes may be small and everyday, but what Mommy has to say is bigger, deeper: about life itself. The film reminded me of the above quote and freedom and our quest for it is the biggest thing Mommy has to talk about for me. It's about this and also about love and family and how those closest to us are so entwined they're not entirely separate beings to us. It's easily Dolan's most affecting work to date because within it every scene stems from and is full of emotion and conveys this to the audience.

    In fact the film is so filled with emotion it is hard to remember the extremes it reached. It is so devastating by the end that I had to really think back to recall how I'd laughed out loud earlier on. There is a lot of humour in the film (in its observation of characters and what they say and do, but the time that got me most of all was when two characters laugh so hysterically you can't help but laughing out loud too – there's a real danger of us all descending into uncontrollable laughter alongside the ladies on screen!) which made me glad to watch it in a full cinema where the reaction could be heard from the audience. Despite this, by the end Dolan puts you through the wringer, and all that is left is our heartbreak for his characters and that that quest could never be.

    Dolan's characters, for me are always his greatest strength. Not so much the specifics of them (though I must say these three are unforgettable in that sense!) but how they work. Since his first film, he has managed to express often deep or complex aspects about who his characters (and thus, who we all!) are inside in a way where I feel it. It isn't a thing that is easy to talk about because for me Dolan can tap into the kind of things the people in his films are and feel and do that often defy rational logic but yet which we all understand totally. Wow, confusing, much?

    Anyway, here too, Die, Steve and Kyla (all exceptionally portrayed) are the heart of the film. They all feel like real people and despite the 2.5 hour running time, somehow at the end of the film you feel they've been snatched away from you. All actors can convey so much in an expression or action that you feel a world of their emotion and understand things about them without them needing to be said.

    The three main characters in the film all become tied to each other in a way where they're kind of enmeshed. This is most true with Steve and Die who I feel are not entirely two separate people. They are Son and Mother, but more than this – they are man and wife, lovers, little kids – sister and brother, he's prince to her queen and Steve can be the father and Die the child. He is she and she is he and this is a bond that is wrapped up in who these people are. This makes the love Dolan's familial pairings have for each other unbreakable. Steve and Die fiercely are protective of each other: above all else. Yet in this, as in Dolan's other films, people entwined together struggle to exist almost as one being when despite how interwoven they are, they are individuals too. How to be separate, yet one? Dolan's characters push each other away and pull each other tight but they can never be entirely individual, nor can they escape each other. This is for me the true link between all of Dolan's films thus far.

    I just want to say something briefly about the very start to illustrate the detail I felt in the film, without describing every detail which would sound trite. Though we'll come to know Die, Mommy of the title as many things, here we are first introduced to her as Mommy: she is shown in a visual sense as the roots, the trunk of the family tree.

    I guess I should talk about the fact that the film is shot in a square of screen and to be honest I barely noticed it until a truly glorious moment when the screen opens up as a character exclaims their freedom and we see our three leads feeling free fleetingly. It gave me chills. After this moment, when the screen closes again – now you feel what at least I hadn't really noticed until then – that this aspect ratio works as a visual representation of how trapped these characters are. The screen closes in at a time that truly illustrates this and from then on the black sides feel as though they're kind of that-which-will-remain- forever-unreachable. The only time the screen expands again attests to this for it is a character's dream of the future.

    Mommy is pitched in an ordinary world, but at extremes of emotion, but at the core there is always honesty in what it says and it's this that for me makes Dolan a great filmmaker. Dolan gets people and when you understand people enough to not just make a film in which you care about the characters, but to make a film where no matter the character, their experiences resonate: then, you have something magic.

    "What does anyone want but to feel a little more free." I quoted at the start. Though Mommy wends through humour to ultimate heartbreak, for moments in it its characters are free and perhaps through this as we escape in its world, it allows us to feel a little more free also?
  • When I thought of watching 'Mommy' there were two factors which militated against it. One was language barrier. The movie is in fluent French and I know from experience that a lot of meaning is lost in translation via subtitles. Second was the cultural barrier. Being a middle-class conservative Indian, I usually find it difficult to connect with many foreign thematic films. But to my sheer surprise, 'Mommy' was a complete riot – far better and stimulating than 'Batman vs Superman' crap which I crawled through the previous day.

    'Mommy' is one of those movies where screenplay moves fast yet the story unfolds slowly. This ingenuity shifts the film from art-house to entertaining realm. 2-3 months of characters' lives take around 130 minutes of screen time which give ample time for all details to unfold. Despite the subject matter being serious, the film never appears to be dry. Thorough importance is given to character development. I must add that I haven't seen such marvelous character development in my recent history of film-watching. We get to know and empathize with all idiosyncrasies of the characters. We laugh and cringe with the on-screen characters.

    The plot of the film is not predictable at all. Just when you think you figured out what is happening the story throws up a new dimension. At places hidden emotional feelings of Patrick are insinuated which compel the viewer to churn his mind. Die's dream sequence towards the end of the film showing Patrick's life successful and happy was truly surreal and well placed - a mother's dream for his son.

    Overall, 'Mommy' is the finest Canadian film I saw in a long time. The film is truly a riot - an excellent piece of cinema.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Xavier Dolan, Canadian infant terrible's fifth feature, MOMMY is gratifyingly his maturest work to date, won the Jury Prize in Cannes last year, and gutsily challenges our traditional cinema habit by altering the frame to an idiosyncratic 1:1 aspect ratio - bar two exceptions of 16:9 ratio sequences involving a soul-liberating celebration of life and a fanciful imagination of a mother indulging in her proudest moments of his son, which is quite a bravura to pull off, centralises its characters and dramatises their interactions and emotions.

    Retracing to the central theme of his smash debut I KILLED MY MOTHER (2009, 7/10) at the age of 19, but sans the queer label, MOMMY is concentrated on Diane (Dorval), a middle-aged widow and his teenage son Steve (Pilon), who is diagnosed with ADHD and afflicted with a proclivity of violence and self-abuse, apart from other misconduct in the present Canada. Their intimate mother-son life-pattern has gone through an extensive scrutiny from Dolan's invading camera with a tagline like this - sometimes love cannot save one person, anticipates the finale. They fight and reconcile, confess their love but also swear to each other and even roughhouse, she has to walk on thin ice with him while he is recalcitrant and rebellious.

    Their volatile relationship has been wondrously balanced out since a new neighbour Kyla (Clément) barges into their life, her first intrusion happens exactly after a most violent incident could ever occurred between mother-and-son. Then the triangle starts to stabilise into a wholesome dynamism, Kyla, a compulsive stutter who claims to be a high school teacher on sabbatical and very evasive about her past, albeit she lives across the street with her husband and a young daughter. A semi-friend-semi-family liaison is luxuriantly budding between Kyla and the family, she home-schools Steve so that Diane can earn some extra money as a house cleaner, life is not easy, but all of them feel content and optimistic, they dance, bike/skateboarding, prepare food and dine together, here is when the first 16:9 ratio sequence exuberantly inserted literally by Steve extending the screen on his skateboard.

    When Diane receives a citation from court, due to a previous wrongdoing of Steve, which demands a great sum of compensation, the screen retreats back to the square frame, life is just a winding road, a tentative plan to befriend with their lawyer neighbour Paul (Huard), who has always been flirtatious towards Diane, goes awry thanks to the uncooperative Steve. Strife emerges again and after Steve's unsuccessful suicidal attempt (or just a way to raise attention and state his point, since who with a firm intent to die will cut his wrist in a packed supermarket?), Diane must make the most difficult decision after she ravishingly envisions a perfect future for Steve, the gorgeous-looking 16:9 section accompanied by Ludovico Einaudi's sublime EXPERIENCE is the long-waited high point of this intensive drama, Dolan's usual tricks - slow-motion, soft focus, close-up - are all consummately deployed in a fantasy we could only wish would be true for our protagonists. Not too soon we are sucked back to the grim reality, staring at the square again, a coercive separation, a heartrending goodbye and the ambiguous/unambiguous ending (Lana Del Rey's BORN TO DIE is the closing credit melody), after all, it is not a film for those faint-hearted.

    Within this close-knit cast, Dolan successfully sheds his pompous swagger to be overtly impressive and ostentatious which is often associated with a devil-may-care resolution among young filmmakers, and has trespassed the threshold of intolerance in HEARTBEATS (2010), my least favourite among his 5 features, instead, he patiently teases out the top-notch chemistry among his three main players, calculated in minute precision. Dorval, is utterly majestic to personify a stimulating mother image poles apart from I KILLED MY MOTHER, Diane has an uncouth and kitsch temperament which she cannot hide, then it materialises that it is a useful approach to communicate with her equally bad-mouthed son, but her unconditional love to Steve, sincere affinity with Kyla, and a strong faith in hope (the poor man's luxury), all marks her as a remarkable and vivid human being out of Dorval's outstanding dedication. Clément, another muse of Dolan, comes to the fore in her more introvert characteristic to hide her secret (a dead son in her past only fleetingly implied but never actually revealed), Kyla's stutter is a convenient barometer of her emotional state and Clément is amazing to the hilt. As for the newcomer Pilon, his Stevie is a spitfire with explosive fierceness, a nightmare to any parenthood, with fitful charisma on the verge of dissipation at any minute due to inappropriate external stimulation, it is a prime casting choice and he chalks up a grandstanding presence.

    From Sarah McLachlan, Dido, Counting Crows, Oasis, Lana Del Rey to Andrea Bocelli until the national treasure Celine Dion, etc. MOMMY's soundtrack is an ear-worm hits collection, measures up to Dolan's eclectic taste in music, emblazons the youthfulness and urbanization in his filmic tack, better than lighting up the mood, it coherently indicates the progression of diegesis which will continue to be one of Dolan's trademarks. Finally, MOMMY positively attests that a prodigy can survive the inevitable backlash and hopefully evolve into a bonafide maestro, Dolan's future cannot be brighter in this regard.
  • It can be easily said that Xavier Dolan is one the foremost directors of our time and he proved this by making this gorgeous film. The film contains so much dramatic elements and uses them accurately. Furthermore, there are some scenes that are so humorous. You might see yourself while giggling those scenes.

    If we talk about cast and performances , we could say the actor,playing Steve, showed us one of the most perfect teenager performances who tries to deal with psychological problems and the mother made us feel the reality of the low class Canadian family.Of course the other leading actress succesfully accompanied them.

    The way of Xavier Dolan's using musics was great. Although the musics were well-known by people by us, we literally effected all of them thanks to Xavier Dolan's wise. Espically the scene that consisted of the music Exprience by Ludovico Einaudi is the best scene of the film.I just froze.

    The film has some shortcomings, one of them is scenario.The Script was relatively standart. It was usual and not able to make us really suprise. But don't worry probably you won't care while watching because of its awesome atmosphere. Another shortcoming is that The film ,towards in the midlle of it,was dull. It was not only dull but also boring. Nonetheless, it was be able to overcome after some boring scenes. You were being able to find yourself watching the film without even taking breath. What is great about this film is that we could see marvelous performances and of course the expertism of the Xavier Dolan's directing.

    Score : 9/10
  • Kosmologia20 January 2015
    There is definitely a lot to say about "Mommy". So many sides to it that I honestly do not know where to begin. The first aspect that really got a hold on me was the cinematography, as well as the photography. The camera, directed by Xavier Dolan, manages to make the viewer breathe an aura of beauty and gleam in most of the scenes, insofar as the movie as a whole can actually be classified as one of those rare masterpieces in which you may - and often you do - easily get lost. And the soundtrack certainly plays a role in this game. From Dido to Céline Dion, from Eiffel 65 to Andrea Bocelli, from Oasis to Ludovico Einaudi, each artist and each song is perfectly accurate for the moment in which it is played. Especially and eventually Lana Del Rey with her "Born To Die". But I think the greatest aspect of the entire movie, if you can find one single aspect better than another one, is the structure and the interior complexity of the very few characters. Both *Die* and Steve, and Kyla as well, have a both strong ad anguished personality, and the bounds that exist among them are, in one word, visceral. As visceral as their true essence. As visceral as the situation in which they are imprisoned, and from which they can escape only in very few moments of « Liberté », as Steve screams to the sky. Only in this coinciding moments the framing widens, turning from a square to a giant rectangle, and the spectator is suddenly swallowed by the excitement of the characters, by their joy. By their innate and genuine HAPPINESS.
  • A brave acting effort that entertains in moments, but tends to miss its target. This film will please some and frustrate others, hence my rating of 5/10. In general, the film is too schematic and too brief in the quiet moments, opting instead for highly theatrical poses. This is more about a mom and mental health than it is about the characters of Diane and Steve. There is little character development, and, when it does develop, it's due to external circumstances. The transitions in Steve, from calm to manic, are disconnected and ungrounded, making for random slice-of-life, not drama. There are too many nice-but-dysfunctional people in this film and they don't say interesting things or embark on any story arc, but merely prattle their dysfunctions. They're wildly improbable and ornamented and often ring hollow, e.g., Steve's mother, a potty-mouth pole-dancer, but who suddenly becomes a literary translator; ???? She may be a decent mom, but still bristles at being called Madame by the authorities, a psychological nonsense: is she a peasant, a hippie, or a grad student? Here and there, there are bits of anti-English bias, all gratuitous and juvenile. Gratuitous too, is the Steve-Kyla interaction. Instead of anchoring the story of the homeschooling within a thematic subplot, Kyla's part merely throws us off the track, as she suffers, giggles, and then explodes in Steve's face, a moment that's as histrionic and arch as everything else in the film. The character of Steve is a type, not a person; he's an enigma who presented too few reasons for me to care about him. By film's end, this (overlong) journey is sketchy. The main plot device does work well, but is ruined by a ludicrous and self-indulgent last scene.
  • gerard_chaouat23 September 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    I just saw this movie tonight at the monthly "Positif" avant-première ! the movie was so good that despite a "urgent prostate problem" to be medical (I am Md....) I stayed stuck to my seat till the end... The movie is not to be seen by faint people, for it contains a few hard sequences, which are absolutely necessary to depict the gravity of the problem Diane is encountering with her son. 99 % of the people will have no problems with that. Another "problem" is the language. It is in "full Quebecois", and despite having been many times to Quebec, la Malbaie, and other places, I found the French subtitles .... very useful..... to say the least. But it has to stay like that : it gives the full cultural flavor to this movie. I just wonder how it will sound for English speaking only people with English subtitles. You might lose a full dimension. Well , this is a brilliant cast, and the 3 main characters are both wonderfully playing and directed. The story itself is poignant. At one brief moment, I was almost lead to think there was a happy end ...but , no, this was a dream, and return to earth from the moon was heart breaking..... I will not spoil the developments, but again, I emphasize, this is not a relaxing movie. But it will catch you entangled from the very first minutes to the dramatic end...... Masterpiece ....
  • A powerful well-acted and brilliantly directed film which may never reach the audience it deserves ... and that is because of the "elephant in the room."

    Some auteurs, possessed of a single vision, will "paint" their story against an unusual backdrop to make it stronger. That backdrop can be anything from the emptiness of space, to the time of a past world war, to an imaginary future to a village in a country that never existed.

    Such is the magic of film.

    MOMMY uses the backdrop of French Canada. In its own way, with its own unique history, as exclusive and remote location as the one Sandra Bullock found herself in when her shuttle was damaged.

    Everything about the film deserves attention, even the bizarre use of an exceptionally tight Aspect Ratio -- other reviewers have heaped praise on this bizarre affectation, but the TRUTH is that audiences around the globe will be on the phone with Tech Support 3 minutes after the credits roll, trying to figure out what just happened to their $5k home theatre system...?

    The film is not only shot in French Canada but is one of the only so-called "mass appeal" films from Quebec to unleash that unusual Quebec dialect to the max (a dialect so obscure that even tourists from Paris France have trouble with it) and actually parade it, like a badge of honor, from scene to scene.

    And therein lies the agony and the ecstasy.

    As the earlier reviews show, Canadians in particular will look (listen?) past this and patiently seek the cinematic rewards therein. For them this is not a problem -- they have been trained to do this from birth, it is now part of their DNA.

    Viewers from other parts of the globe may not be as forgiving, however, and this creates both paradox and dissonance. And limits the ambit of the film's true audience.

    Which is a pity. Quel dommage.
  • MikeyB179327 May 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is an extreme high-octane energy film from the two main characters – mother (played by Anne Dorval) and her son (played by Antoine- Olivier Pilon). They dominate every scene in this film. They are both abusive towards each other and to others – and there are borderline uncomfortable scenes, so be warned. Seldom have I seen a movie that takes off so rapidly from the get-go.

    Somehow the energy dissipates during the second half of the film. Things start to sag with scenes dragging on too long.. And questions start to arise – as in where exactly are we going with all the insults, the screaming...? And, aside from all the ugly confrontations – what is the story?

    I did not feel the ending to be a good wrap-around. Through-out I was rather quizzical of their lonely next door neighbor who awkwardly popped in and out of the scenes. Her performance in all this seemed artificial. But the two main characters remain credible throughout.
  • As you probably already have heard, Xavier Dolan's Mommy is not a laid-back inquiry into the joys of motherhood, but a shout-em-down contest of wills between Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon), an out-of-control teenager suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and his mother Diane Després (Anne Dorval), whose parental skills are severely challenged. Needless to say, there can be no winners in such a contest. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Mommy is shot in a 1:1 aspect ratio which is like living inside of a cardboard box with no windows. This choice may seem appropriate to the director, but, for the viewer, it feels like always being short of breath.

    Supported by a potpourri of 90s biggest hits, Mommy takes place in 2015 in a fictional Canada where a new law has been passed allowing parents to put their children in an institution without the need for any messy legal proceedings. If this is such a futuristic development, one wonders why the setting is not like maybe a few more years into the future. "Mommy Dearest," who wears a chain around her neck with the word "mommy" on it perhaps to remind herself of who she is supposed to be, has to come and rescue her son from a boarding school that he seems to have playfully set on fire. Steve, however, does not seem overly thrilled with the idea of going home.

    Diane, whose clever nickname is "Die," tells the school that she is poor, has no job and is not able to take care of Steve, but this alleged poverty is never seen in the film. Once the slender, blond teenager who looks like a male fashion model on Ecstasy, is home, as they say in the vernacular, the something hits the fan. If you are enamored by yelling, screaming, cursing, fighting, and a large helping of general craziness, you have come to the right place. The mood lightens a bit, however, when Diane asks her next-door neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clement) to tutor Steve while she looks for work. Kyla actually reminds us of a real person and introduces a touch of sanity to the household, but we should not get carried away with the sanity stuff.

    Though she provides an antidote to the dynamic duo, Kyla has some problems of her own, not the least of which is a speech impediment that prevents her from working at her job as a 7-9th grade teacher. Steve seems to like her okay at first, but soon tests her resolve. When he grabs her necklace, she shows him who's boss, and his respect for her increases, at least to the point where he doesn't swear at her every minute of the day. Mommy moves from crisis to calm and back again without any substantial character growth, plot development, or psychological insight. While I have had only brief experience working at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents, what seems obvious is that children, ADHD or not, feed off an adult's resistance and that a softer tone often works better than always getting sucked in to their tantrums.

    This director, however, does not appear to be genetically engineered for subtlety and restraint. Ultimately, while there are individual moments when everything comes alive such as the scene when the three of them dance in the kitchen, individual moments of uplift do not make for a meaningful experience as a whole. In spite of some superb performances, Mommy is less a character study than a lack of character study. One is tempted to ask what the point of the film is. It seems to be saying that those who tell you how much they love you are the first ones to betray you. Not a happy or even a truthful message.
  • The movie 'Mommy' written and directed by Xavier Dolan takes place in an alternate version of Canada where any parent has the option to rid themselves of their troublesome children by sending them to an institution. One of the movies main characters Diane Després finds herself in exactly that situation when her son Steve who has ADHD gets out of a youth detention center. Immediately Diane is presented with the option to send Steve away, but his undying love for his mother paired with her own stubbornness and pride stops her from making such a drastic decision. Right from the start this unique family seems to be heading into a disaster but things change when a mysterious neighbour inserts herself into the lives of Diana and Steve.

    The concept of a mother struggling with a troublesome child is not all that unique, and even though this movie has quite a few interesting story elements up its sleeve, at its core it still is a film about a dysfunctional family that has been told many times before. That is not to say that this movie is as mundane as possible since the manner the story is presented in is anything but generic. Characters are extremely well defined and never seem to say or make any decisions which one could consider inconsistent with their usual behavior. The exposition necessary to set up these characters is masterfully woven into the dialogue. The movie never really goes out of its way to tell the viewer something about the characters and instead lets it happen naturally throughout its runtime.

    What makes the characters even better are the amazing actors portraying them. The actress Anna Dorval does an excellent job at showing the human side of Diane. Often times when her character is either laughing or crying it comes off as genuine so genuine in fact that it is not hard to forget that you're watching a movie and not a documentary. Even when her character is not speaking it is quite clear that internally she is struggling with the decision to send her son away in order to live a normal life. This struggle also resonates within the viewer via Antione-Olivier Pilon's portrayal of Steve. There is always a noticeable sense of built up frustration and when his violent nature paired with his ADHD sends him on a tantrum his anger seems real and almost scary at times. Afterwards there is always a small sense of regret when he sees the fear he induced into his mother. The mysterious neighbour Kyla is not as on the forefront as Steve or Diane as she is more of an introvert. That is not to say that this character is very forgetful as Suzanne Clément, the actress behind Kyla, masterfully shows that there is more to her character than first meets the eye. Every performance on its own was very good, but what's even better is the way the director shows the relationship they have with one another. As a family, albeit a dysfunctional one, Steve and Diane really come off as one that probably exists somewhere in this world and the interplay between them and Kyla is also very believable.

    Almost the entire movie is filmed with an aspect ratio of 1:1. Characters are literally locked up in a little box in the same way as they are locked up in a lifestyle they cannot get out of. Instead of it being a gimmick this feature almost comes off as its own character. Because of this small frame in a lot of scenes there really is only one character that appears on the screen at any given time. This really puts the emotions being portrayed at the forefront and further enhances the already great acting performances. As a viewer the small frame made me feel as if I myself was cramped into a little box. When things are looking up for Steve and Diane the frame widens and when the characters finally get their breath of fresh air the viewer experiences the same as they are finally able to escape from that little box they were trapped in. This aspect ratio does have its side effects though as it comes at the cost of the quality of some of the set-up shots. Some were still fairly well done however, but others probably would have turned out a lot better if it had been done in a regular aspect ratio. This is just a minor thing though as it really does not matter in the grand scheme of things.

    What the movie also does not do well is the pace in which the story is told. The movie slows down tremendously just halfway through its runtime and again just before it reaches its ending point. These moments don't last long however as they are over just before the viewer would lose interest but the movie in its entirety would probably have benefited a lot if a good twenty minutes was scraped of its 139 minute runtime. All in all 'Mommy' is an extremely solid movie with great acting performances at its forefront. Xavier Dolan's incredible use of the aspect ratio provides a unique cinematic experience that is absolutely worth the watch.

    My rating: 8/10
  • This film is an incredible depiction of a large group of the Province of Quebec inhabitants. The language is perfect, the styling, costumes, relations, everything is so poignant by its accuracy.

    I believe this movie is a historical piece for the culture of the nation.

    Out of this, it gives a true feel of what love is, of what a mother and a child, and vice-versa, live as emotions.

    It is a beautiful piece of art, a sociological treasure, and it also has a strong political message.

    Must see!
  • cultfilmfan26 February 2015
    One of the hardest parts of reviewing a film online like this, is when you get a film like Xavier Dolan's Mommy. It is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and is just all around great filmmaking and sometimes as the writer, I feel it is sometimes hard to explain to my readers, just how good a film like Mommy is, so I will do my best here. Mommy, is the type of film that reminds me of the films John Cassavetes, would have wrote and directed in the late 60's and through the 70's. Films that have excellent character study and acting as well as being extremely powerful and very emotionally intense. Films that you can identify with the characters on the screen so well and you see them going through various ordeals and trials and sometimes the acting and filmmaking depicting this is done in such a realistic and accurate way that it leaves you for the time being, feeling exhausted, drained and almost maddened. And yet at the same time you are so glad that a piece of art as every good film should be, has gotten this type of emotion from you. One thing I always tend to feel is that if a film leaves you with some type of emotion, whether it be good, or bad it has at least done part of the job it is supposed to have done on you the viewer. Watching the new film Mommy, by genius young director Xavier Dolan reminds me of everything I have just written above. The story is so powerful and the acting by the three main leads here is absolutely fantastic. I would go as far as to say that Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement and Antoine-Olivier Pilon, do not just give some of the best performances of last year, but do indeed give the best male and female performances that I have seen in any film throughout the year 2014. The film is certainly heavy at times, which unfortunately may turn off some viewers and it is emotionally devastating and at times draining to watch because we really learn to care and have empathy for these characters and it is one of those films that when these characters are laughing and having fun, so are we, but at the same time when they are going through pain, difficulties, or situations that would cause most people to have nervous breakdowns, we feel for them inside. Sometimes it is an unpleasant and gut wrenching feeling, but as I said before, the film is so powerful and so excellently done, that we as viewers actually appreciate and admire the film all the more for making us connect and feel with the characters the way that we do. Writer/director Xavier Dolan, is only in his mid 20's and yet he has given us more emotion and seems to understand both men, women and just people in general than filmmakers who have been working twice as long as he has, or who are much older than him. Dolan, certainly has a gift of observing others and getting everything down to perfection in how he analyzes these characters and makes their situations both realistic, believable and relatable. There were certainly times during this film where I laughed with the characters on screen and times during the film where I was very emotionally moved and even cried a bit in times during the film of both sadness and joy. The emotions conveyed through the actors, direction and writing in this film is never done in a sappy, or melodramatic way, we feel for these people because we can relate to them and their situations and because we care for them. We are not all going through exactly the same situations, or scenarios that they are, but that doesn't matter because as human beings, no matter how old you are, you will always go through difficulties in your life and when you get older and see other people hurting, whether it is an experience you have gone through, or not, you still empathize and care for the person who is hurting, not because you have gone through the same thing exactly, but because you have gone through hurts in your own life as well and can relate and feel for them at the same time and in ways that you were hurt in your own life. Because this film is so emotionally powerful and draining, it will unfortunately turn some viewers off, which I think is really a shame because you don't have too often when you have a film of this caliber coming out and just truly making a mark on you as it did me because of what a great masterpiece and film in general it is. I mentioned John Cassavetes, earlier in this review who is truly a genius and one of the best American independent filmmakers who ever lived. Even though he is still young and hopefully has many more films to make, I think that Dolan is one of this generation's best directors and writers. He surely has a knack for getting under your skin and delivering one powerful message and taking you along for the ride. I am so glad to have been able to see Mommy, on the big screen and as it stands it is the single best film I have seen of 2014. Nothing else even comes close. Also, I hope in this brief review I was able to convey how great a film this is and how much it meant to me and I hope it makes you want to discover it also.
  • kylerafa13 December 2018
    "Mommy" is one the best films I've ever seen in my entire Life. Dolan plays with our emotions all along the film. The actings and cinematography are so real that you do deep into it the first minutes you watch it. It tells a lot about love and life and how to spend it, it tells a lot about being strong and fight for what you love, despite the numerous problems you can fight. It's simply a Masterpiece !
  • Wollyams9 August 2019
    I smiled constantly throughout the first hour & cried during the second. "Mommy" is wholesome, layered & brutal; beautifully performed, uncomfortably familiar & uncompromisingly real. It's breathtaking filmmaking & a deeply impactful movie.
  • Mommy is the kind of movie that stays in your mind the next morning, and maybe the next, and the next.

    Comprising of a lot of loud and powerful scenes, but also so many beautiful and peaceful ones, this movie makes you go through a wide spectrum of feelings.

    Antoine-Olivier Pilon throws a performance recital, so amazing for an actor his age. Anne Dorval is captivating and Suzanne Clément steals the show in her scenes. Also, I just became a fan of Xavier Dolan, really glad to have discovered him through this movie.

    I would recommend this film, without a doubt to everyone with a heart. Just prepare for it to get a little broken.
  • alerosi8915 January 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    Diane, a feisty widowed mother, decided to remove her son Steve from the rehabilitation center. He's just set fire to the cafeteria. The situation gets worse from the beginning, Steve starts to fight with his mother, fortunately a lovely neighbour manage to calm down the boy. She is a teacher and helps Steve at school. It starts a cheerful period that ends with the request to pay the damages originate by the fire. Life became again difficult and the little boy tries to commit suicide to solve all the problems. In the end the egoistic mother prefers to bring him in a rehabilitation center. She believes that in this way she gives hope to his son, but there is no hope in this kind of structure. Heroes are the people that despite all the adversity find a way to go on. Even pass the day is a victory. I've loved the choice of the director to film in 1:1, a perfect square, where nothing it's perfect. When there are moments of joy the screen become wider. Great selection of music! I'm sorry for my English :)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Mommy" is Xavier Dolan's fifth feature and he's only 25 years old! Set in a suburb of Montreal, Dolan's "dramedy" is the tale of Diane "Die" Després (Anne Dorval) and her extremely hyperactive son, Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), who suffers from ADHD. Dorval and Pilon are both brilliant in their complementary roles, playing off one another's inability to control their repressed anger.

    Steve, of course, is far worse off than his mother—at the beginning of the film, Die is bringing him back home from a juvenile facility where he assaulted a youth and was basically incorrigible in relation to the staff. Die wants to give it another try with Steve but doesn't help things with her constant insulting outbursts. There's something almost comic in the way Steve talks to his mother, often calling her "bitch" and other sundry expletives.

    For awhile (until the character wears out his welcome), Dolan's "Steve" is fascinating because you want to see how far he'll go in his social interactions outside the family. He knows how to "push peoples' buttons" and takes delight in setting people off. There's a great scene at the beginning of the film where Steve goes at it, insulting a black cab driver with a series of racist epithets, that leads to a harrowing confrontation. Later, Steve rips into his mother's "date," a lawyer who lives across the street, accusing him of wanting to get into his "mother's pants." Die was counting on this man to help her with a lawsuit which was instituted as a result of Steve assaulting a kid at the aforementioned youth facility. Sure enough, the lawyer is completely alienated and curses both Die and Steve, right before walking out of their lives for good.

    Also in the mix is the neighbor across the street, Kyla, a teacher on sabbatical, afflicted with a stuttering problem. She bonds with Die and helps Steve with his academic pursuits. Even Kyla is not immune to having her buttons pushed by Steve (she knocks him down to the floor after he provokes her). Interestingly enough, Kyla is the only person Steve seems to listen to. When Kyla tells Die that she's moving to Toronto with her husband and child at film's end, Die puts on an act that she's not upset. Only afterward do we see her break down as it's obvious the relationship mattered quite a great deal to her.

    The Steve and "Mommy" show goes on a bit too long and the novelty of Steve's machinations, wears off. The fact that the film was shot in a 1:1 aspect ratio is also annoying, as the truncated square that appears on only part of the screen, makes us feel as if we're watching an old video from the 80s and early 90s. A couple of times Dolan expands to full screen, particularly in the fantasy sequence where Die imagines a much more optimistic fate for her son. But unfortunately that sequence also goes on for too long.

    At the beginning of the film, title cards posit a future scenario where parents have the right to commit their children to psychiatric facilities without a court order. While Dolan makes clear where his sympathies lie, the fact is that he's tipping us off to what happens at the climax—Steve's institutionalization is a foregone conclusion. It might have been a better idea to dispense with those title cards!

    There is no doubt that Mr. Dolan is a very talented writer and director. His ear for realistic dialogue and sophisticated characters is quite apparent. Nonetheless, sometimes too much of a good thing is not good at all. "Mommy" would have been much better had it been at least 30 minutes shorter. That said, go see "Mommy" because there are many good things in it that will impress the discerning film-goer.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Xavier Dolan's "Mommy" is more than a movie, it is an experience of being choked up in a jar and forced to rub shoulder to shoulder with an estranged pair of mother and son. Steve the son and his mom Diane co-exist in an imploding world that is part mesmerizing, part love hate, part compulsive obsessive, part oedipal and very co-dependent. This phenomenon of total inseparability is one of a relationship that is destined, unresolvable and self-devouring. Picture it as a snake that is condemned to eat itself from the tail up and you are watching it so close you can smell its breath. On that, the brilliant part about this movie is the clever use of the aspect ratio which like Abel Glance's "Napoleon" changes its size in midair to make a point. In this case, the breadth of screen becomes either the audience's interlocking prison to force feed you intensification or the characters' sudden, fleeting and momentary reliefs like the feeling of someone opening the lid to the jar where you are kept. For the characters, although their behaviors are recurring and with predictable consistency, they however possess immense hidden depth as to who and what they are to each other. For example, behind the veneer of nonchalant calmness from Diane and the explosive burst of destructions from Steve, there is an unsaid need of constant confirmations from each other as proofs of their own completeness. The thing that makes this movie so connecting is that in each of us, we all share this feeling of affirmation from our mothers and our love ones, only for the most of us, they come in much milder forms.
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