REVIEW: Mommy

30 08 2014

mommyTelluride Film Festival

Fascination with portraying a particular kind of relationship on screen is not necessarily a bad thing – just look at how many compelling films Martin Scorsese has turned out about fathers and sons.  When that fascination turns to fixation, though, further exploration can just wind up being counterproductive.

That’s the case with wunderkind Xavier Dolan, releasing his fifth feature film “Mommy” at the ripe old age of 25.  It’s certainly an accomplished work with plenty to laud: namely, Dolan’s mastery of music and montage.  To those unfamiliar with his work, the film may come across quite unique and fresh.

Yet dig back into Dolan’s filmography to find his debut feature, “I Killed My Mother,” which is essentially the same film as “Mommy.”  Both put a dysfunctional mother-son relationship at their core and takes a look at the way each party drives each other towards insanity.

In “Mommy,” Antoine Olivier Pilon plays a foul-mouthed teen, Steve, who suffers from ADHD and other afflictions.  He clearly tries the patience of his mother, Anne Dorval’s Diane, who’s no angel herself.  Dolan sets their misadventures in an alternative Canadian reality where Diane could have Steve involuntarily committed to a hospital, and it’s clear that easy route is never far out of mind.

“Mommy” also introduces a third character into the mix (“I Killed My Mother” was essentially a two-hander), Suzanne Clement’s friendly neighbor Kyla.  She agrees to help homeschool Steve while his mom is out working, which results in her becoming somewhat like a regular family member.  What exactly Kyla adds to the mix – or what Diane and Steve want to take away from her – is never expressly clear, giving “Mommy” its sole bit of tension.

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Telluride Film Festival Diary, Day 1

29 08 2014

12:45 P.M.:  TGIF, everyone!  I’m headed into a packed day that will have me at some incredible events.  For all those who are really dying to know, here’s the schedule I’ve been given for the festival.

TFF Schedule

As far as I can tell, I will be at the world premiere of “The 50 Year Argument” (which is Martin Scorsese’s latest documentary) and the North American premiere of Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy.”  And then … a 35th anniversary tribute to “Apocalpyse Now” will have Francis Ford Coppola in person along with several below-the-line talent.  Incredible.  Geeking out so much.

1:00 P.M.: Ken Burns in the house!

1:49 P.M.: Only had about 20-25 minutes with Ken Burns, but he certainly had quite a lot to say! I’ll write up some of his profundities later. But meanwhile, I’m now at the 35th anniversary screening of “Apocalypse Now” with Francis Ford Coppola in the house!

2:00 P.M.: Spotted Mike Leigh at the “Apocalypse Now” screening.

5:30 P.M.: Left In stunned silence once again by “Apocalypse Now.” And learned so much about its construction and intention from FFC and gang.

5:50 P.M.: Now at the “feed” for the festival (basically a picnic for all badge holders, including talent). Free dinner and drinks. Plus sightings of Ken Burns again on a business call – and Chaz Ebert, Roger’s widow.

6:50 P.M.: Spotted Jon Stewart. Some people went to bother him in conversation, and apparently he was receptive enough to take a picture. I was not so bold, though.

9:22 P.M.: Just emerged from the Scorsese documentary on the New York Review of Books, “The 50 Year Argument.” Mike Leigh was sitting behind me, and after the film, he seemed to linger a tad bit when he heard me discussing the film with others.

This documentary is going to be broadcast on HBO in a few weeks, and I advise you to skip it. Or do laundry while you watch it. Unless you have a connection to the Review, you’ll probably find this self-congratulatory anniversary celebration a tedious and slow paced history lesson. (Still deciding whether or not I’ll give it a full review since it’s not made for a theatrical release.)

Anyways, back in line now for Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy.” Quite excited for this one, which took home the Jury Prize at Cannes this May.

12:45 A.M.: Wow, what a long and draining day. I must say, I did prefer “Mommy” when Xavier Dolan called it “I Killed My Mother” five years ago.