He has barely stepped into his twenties, when one of his two feature films receives a standing ovation in 2010 Cannes film festival. His films are visual candies, tuned almost perfect, in the meantime revealing some harshness. French weekly news magazine L’Express labels this young director with such flattering words as: “Young, beautiful and talented“. He is Xavier Dolan.
Being no stranger to the world of cinema (parentwise, of course), Dolan entered the world of cinema as an actor in some TV series, followed with works in some feature films as Good Neighbours (by Jacob Tierney) and Laugier’s Martyrs. At the age of seventeen he wrote the script for I Killed My Mother (original title: J’ai tué ma mère) which was released in 2009.
I Killed My Mother
How the title suggests, this is obviously not a story of a happy household or an idyllic mother – son relations. Dolan, both directs this feature as well as plays Hubert Minel, a teenager in a very deep confusion, who seems to have reached a dead-end in the mutual understanding between him and his mother. The illustration of these turbulent mother-son relations isn’t less cruel than the title of the film. I Killed My Mother is drenched in shouting, hysterics and despair from both sides. Dolan has captured his main characters in a living hell – they have nothing in common, yet they are related in the closest way there is.
But regardless of being related by blood, both figures are tormenting each other in all violent ways possible. Each simple routine turns out in an outraging argument, which almost always ends by reminding how much hatred there is. I Killed My Mother could be a pure projection of a homosexual Oedipus, who craves to kill his mother and… to sleep with his father.
What makes this feature more interesting, is that Dolan has made it like a sort of a nowadays version of François Truffaut’s iconic masterpiece The 400 Blows (released in 1959). Since there are no limits, censorship or whatsoever, the little Parisian boy Antoine Doinel has evolved into a probably spoiled teenager Hubert who is not afraid to shout his head off, while talking to his mother and tell her how much he hates her whenever such possibility comes up.
Paradoxically, the worst part is how Dolan treats the character of the mother. He emerges her into a total absurdity, jailing her into a fortress of bad taste and grotesque outfits. This works very good for the narration, and helps having the spectator on the side of Hubert Minel, as well as spicing things up with some comedy. But still, this balances a bit on the frontier with adolescence, in sense of having the urge to prove how right you are and how wrong your parents are. Nevertheless, the age of the director at the time of shooting the movie justifies this little weakness.
Coming soon: Let’s talk about Xavier Dolan. Part 2 – Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires)