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MOMMY (review)

Written and Directed by Xavier Dolan
Starring Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clement

Social worker: Loving people doesn’t save them. Love has no say.

(For more insight on MOMMY, check out our interview with Xavier Dolan.)

I don’t want to say that Canadian filmmaker, Xavier Dolan, has mommy issues, but given that his latest film, MOMMY, is the most visceral and emotionally effective film since his debut feature, I KILLED MY MOTHER, I don’t think it would too much of a stretch to suggest that there might be a little something going on there. That said, as long as he continues to produce films as wonderful as this last one, then he can continue exploring his issues on film all he likes.

In MOMMY, Dolan imagines a world just a few short years from now where the Canadian government has passed legislation that allows parents of troubled children to have them institutionalized without question. He announces this to the viewer at the onset of the film and subsequently you know that this will eventually be a consideration for the titular mother of the film, Diane (Anne Dorval, who also played the mother in I KILLED MY MOTHER), whose teenage son, Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) has just come back to live with her after some time in therapy. Diane hardly has her life together as it is; she is in between jobs and she keeps a bottle of  whiskey by the laundry machine. It also isn’t very long before things start to get violent between Steve and his mother after his return. This is where a neighbour from across the way (Suzanne Clement) enters the equation, restoring balance to their relationship, at least temporarily.


Dolan chose to shoot the majority of the film in a boxed aspect ratio, similar to that app the kids use, called Instagram. The effect is extremely intimate and immediate. We can only focus on one character at a time, which allows us to connect with what they’re feeling very easily. The tight framing also highlights the tension so that when Dolan finally lets the frame go wide, we feel the same exaltation the characters are embodying. And while MOMMY may be slightly derivative of his first feature, he builds on it in such a way that makes the experience electric.

4.5 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Mommy?



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