Mommy 

The family circus.

mg_movies2_3716.jpg

The relationship of Diane "Die" Després (Anne Dorval) and her adolescent son Steve O'Connor Després (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) in Xavier Dolan's Mommy hits us violently. "Combative" does not begin to describe how alcoholic, loudmouthed Montreal mom Die gets along with the even-louder-mouthed, ultra-needy Steve, who has just been released from child mental health custody, because of a change in the law. "Volcanic" or "cataclysmic" are more like it. Die and Steve cause a ruckus everywhere they go. Spending a few minutes with them is like sticking your face into a blazing fire.

Watching writer-director Dolan's hectic character study requires a certain amount of intestinal fortitude, but audiences with the stomach for it will be treated to a whirlwind acting display that you don't see every day. Car crashes, hospitals, screaming matches, slammed doors, lawsuits, a bottle of Crown Royal on the laundry detergent shelf, pants-wetting, wrist-slashing, a monumentally embarrassing scene at a karaoke nightclub, and, surprisingly, one or two verifiably tender, calm moments between mother and son are the order of the day. It makes a definite impression.

Our neutral window in this explosive little family unit — Steve's father is out of the picture — is Kyla (Suzanne Clément), the stammering neighbor from across the street, whose rapprochement with Die and Steve supplies most of the ordinary human interest in Dolan's scenario. Quebec-based actress Dorval, veteran of Dolan's similarly strenuous Heartbeats and I Killed My Mother, comes within an inch of destroying the entire movie but always pulls back. Ditto teenage actor Pilon and his character, a brat's brat with loads of pathetic appeal. You'd think twice about providing Steve a foster home, or an aperitif.

As for filmmaker Dolan, contentedly plowing his fields of torment in French Canada, Mommy is only the latest in a filmography studded with his protagonists' misfortune and misdirected emotion. Die and Steve are such a handful we might forget that we're watching a social drama rather than a "family circus" freak show, and that would be a shame. There's more going on here than it appears at first.


Mommy

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Movie Review

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Taste, Fall 2017

Fall Arts 2017

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

© 2017 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation