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Xavier Dolan’s new film about a hard-drinking and cussing single mother, her violent son and a traumatized teacher with a speech impediment who gives new hope to the family, is high-powered cinema, reminiscent of John Cassavetes films.


Xavier Dolan is the wunderkind of international cinema. The Canadian director is just 25-years-old and MOMMY is his fifth film. His first film, I KILLED MY MOTHER, got him an invitation to Cannes, and his film MOMMY won the jury prize at this year’s Cannes festival. Dolan’s latest film is shot in square frame and not, as usual, in horizontal frame. The dimension used, a small boxlike frame, forces the viewer to focus on the world of the film’s trio and reveal their horizons. The format recalls classical portraits and photographs, and gives the characters an almost festive dignity. Diane, also called Die, is the widow of an engineer. She just lost her job, her car was broken into and her unpredictable 15-year-old son Steve, who has ADHD, has just been kicked out of a care facility for setting fire to the cafeteria. Diane acts like a teenager from the 90s, drinks, swears like a sailor, and pays her bills when she feels like it. She tries to get translation jobs from French into English even though her English is weak. Steve has an even bigger mouth, thinks of himself as the “man in the house,” and is out of control. Dolan chose a great cameraman, André Turpin, and has great ideas for his images. There is one scene in the film where Diane begs for a job at the house of a wealthy publisher, an old friend of her husband’s. The images from the house look like they are straight out of a Cecil Beaton glamour take. But when Dolan had his characters in another setting, like smoking at the window, laughing at the kitchen table in their bungalow, or their fists balled in a fight, the images give a feeling of almost revolutionary empowerment: These people have limited horizons and struggle for their dignity but any day they could rip your head off. The format only widens in sequences of euphoric hope. The stuttering ex-teacher and neighbor enters the lives of the struggling mother and son to provide a sense of stability and a little bit of hope.
MOMMY is definitely not easy cinema-going and recalls the late films John Cassavetes, such as A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE or MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ, films that highlight the dignity of people living on the margins of society. MOMMY isn’t a perfect film but the film’s exuberance is contagious and you find yourself stumbling out of the cinema physically tired.

Tom Dorow


Kanada 2014, 134 min
Language: French, English
Genre: Drama, Familiy History
Director: Xavier Dolan
Author: Xavier Dolan
DOP: André Turpin
Montage: Xavier Dolan
Music: Eduardo Noya
Distributor: Weltkino Filmverleih
Cast: Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément, Antoine-Olivier Pilon
FSK: 12
Release: 13.11.2014




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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