I sat down and watched another one of my Fopp purchases the other day; “I Killed My Mother”. My friend who I watched it with, Matt, an avid film enthusiast, Chelsea fan and album reviewer back in the days when forums were popular, requested that he review this film. Matt has no film blog, no twitter, nothing to promote – just his appreciation of this film.
Here are his thoughts;
A semi-autobiographical story about Hubert as a young homosexual at odds with his mother.
We can all relate in some way to Xavier Dolan’s debut feature film ‘I Killed My Mother’. Not, as the title may suggest, by having committed matricide, but through the notion of feeling a growing disconnect with a parent during our formative teenage years. Seemingly innocuous pet hates such as dinner table mannerisms, or a questionable taste in clothes simmer away in the background until one day they boil over and contribute to inappropriate bouts of adolescent rage. Dolan takes this notion and turns it up to eleven in a confrontational and poignant film about a tempestuous mother-son relationship.
Why, then, does Hubert (loosely based on Dolan himself) hate his mother, Chantale? Is it that she is argumentative and selfish? Is it that he is belligerent and obnoxious? Does the absence of a present father figure put a strain on the relationship? Did Chantale mollycoddle him too much as a young child? The film doesn’t give us an easy answer to this question, instead hinting at myriad factors all contributing towards the fractious relationship.
Dolan’s direction compliments the frenetic nature of Hubert and Chantale’s relationship, keeping the plot deliberately thin and magnifying the drawn out, intense, and sometimes comical battles between them. However, it’s in between these scenes when they interact with the strong supporting cast, that we begin to see Hubert’s playful and artistic side and realise that Chantale is spirited and courageous. Together, they are monstrous caricatures of themselves. Separately, we have sympathy for each. But where the film truly succeeds is demonstrating the dependency they have on one another and a bond that somehow doesn’t seem to completely break despite best efforts on both sides.
It should be acknowledged that the film is is the product of a first-time director, first-time writer, and a lead actor making his feature film debut. Dolan undertook all three of these roles before he was 20 years old and accomplishes each with aplomb; particularly his raw and emotive acting which has been largely overlooked. The fact that Dolan wrote and directed this semi autobiographical film in his teenage years is extremely apt. This is not a reflective piece – he is still a teenager – and it may be argued that ‘I Killed My Mother’ is Dolan’s attempt to have the final word in a real-life adolescent battle with his own mother.