(out of 5)
He teaches classes by day and carouses with his live-in girlfriend by night, until one evening an admission is made and a secret must come out: Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) has always believed that he is a woman born in the body of a man, and if he is going to mentally survive he needs to go through the process of transitioning to his true self. In stages from 1989-1999 we see Laurence become the woman she has always dreamed of being, while her frustrated girlfriend (Suzanne Clément in an excellent performance) has her own journey of emotional discovery to go on, and Laurence’s mother (Nathalie Baye) veers recklessly between incredulity and support. Running nearly three hours and populated by frequent outbursts of emotional energy, wunderkind auteur Xavier Dolan’s third feature film is a holy mess, a ragged and uninspiring journey into an individual’s life that focuses so much of its energy on hyperkinetic visuals that it fails to produce the slightest bit of humanity or warmth. Poupaud’s experiences are kept at a distance by a director who allows her very few moments of reflection or calm, while the film barrels through its plot points in a super-indulgent, unreflective way that only exhausts the viewer by the the time the overdrawn conclusion is reached. Also, if I may be picky, I was there in 1990 and it didn’t look like that, not even under the most ironic of circumstances. Oddly enough, the film’s best moments are those that Dolan did so very well in his first film I Killed My Mother, capturing the heat between mother and son, with French cinema’s masterful performers Poupaud and Baye providing the only times when this bloated monstrosity actually feels like it cares about genuine human beings.
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Screenplay by Xavier Dolan
Cinematography by Yves Belanger
Music by Noia
Production Design by Anne Pritchard
Film Editing by Xavier Dolan