Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: J’Ai Tue Ma Mere
Canada, 2009. Mifilifilms. Screenplay and dialogue by Xavier Dolan. Cinematography by Stephanie Anne Weber Biron. Produced by Xavier Dolan. Music by Nicholas Savard-L’Herbier. Production Design by Anette Belley. Costume Design by Xavier Dolan, Nicole Pelletier. Film Editing by Helene Girard. Toronto International Film Festival 1999.
Xavier Dolan writes, directs and stars as Hubert, a gay teen who is finding it increasingly difficult to live with his mother. Exasperated by everything she says and does, he fights with her constantly, taking refuge at the home of his boyfriend and in the consolation of a kindly teacher who loves his writing. Eventually, the conflict with his mother reaches the point where a decision about living arrangements must be made, and despite the fact that Hubert spends the whole film complaining about his parent, being separated from her isn’t actually the answer to all of his prayers. Only 20 years old at the time he made this film, Dolan’s debut shows an incredibly shocking ability to capture the complexity of familial relationships. Both he and Anne Dorval (who is pristine as the hapless matriarch) are sharply critical and spontaneously tender to each other, making for a film that terrorizes you with its energetic anger but breaks your heart at the same time. Thankfully, it also features a strong element of humour that gives it a genuine humanity, and a great soundtrack that contributes to its aesthetically pleasing qualities. It’s a coup for all involved, and as much as I hate to give credit to someone audacious enough to be so young, it is one of the finest debuts of its generation.