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DVD

Mommy

170789

Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clement, Patrick Huard, Alexandre Goyette, Viviane Pascal, Natalie Hamel-Roy

French-Canadian drama written and directed by Xavier Dolan. Diane Després (Anne Dorval) is a widowed mother who has tried everything to get her rebellious ADHD-suffering son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) to stay...

19.99

£6.00

French-Canadian drama written and directed by Xavier Dolan. Diane Després (Anne Dorval) is a widowed mother who has tried everything to get her rebellious ADHD-suffering son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) to stay focused on school work with the ultimate goal of giving him a better life. When he is expelled from yet another school, Diane makes the decision to deinstitutionalise Steve and homeschool him until he understands the consequences of his actions. Struggling for money and patience, Diane is prepared to do just about anything to help her son. Just how far will she go to better her son's future?
  • Featuring Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clement, Patrick Huard, Alexandre Goyette, Viviane Pascal, Natalie Hamel-Roy
  • Directors Xavier Dolan
  • Other Cast André Turpin, Noia, Xavier Dolan, Nancy Grant, Xavier Dolan
  • Running time 133 minutes
  • Certification 15
  • Languages French, English
  • Region 2
  • Subtitles Yes
  • Format DVD
  • Year 2014
  • Release Date 20/07/2015
  • Number of Discs 1
  • Colour Colour
  • Label Trinity Creative Partners
  • RRP 19.99
  • Country of Origin Canada
  • Bonus Footage Yes
  • Subtitle Languages English
  • Original Language French/English

Anne Dorval stars as the eponymous mother Diane (a.k.a. ‘Die’), a forty-something widow with a foul mouth and the dress sense of a teenage rock chick. Her 15-year-old son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) has just been kicked out of a detention centre for starting a fire that left a classmate with serious burns. As Die battles to cope with Steve’s severe ADHD, and to introduce a regime of home schooling, she is miraculously helped out by new neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément), a former teacher on a lengthy sabbatical due some unspecified trauma that has left her with a painfully stifling stammer.

The restricted horizons and dashed hopes of the three protagonists are recorded in a striking 1:1 ratio, reminiscent of a smart phone selfie, and the dark edges of the screen either side of the action intensify the pervading sense of physical and mental claustrophobia. On two occasions a rare note of optimism sees the screen extend to full width, only to recede quickly as the prospects for a brighter future are dimmed.

The dialogue between mother and son is bold, brassy and hilariously offensive, and their reconciliations are cut with ambiguous longing and resentment. Pilon, who had a small role in Dolan’s Laurence Anyways (2012), is a ferocious force of nature as Steve, switching from gurning cherub to violent then regretful aggressor as he desperately tries to reconnect with the sweeter soul that lies deep within. Dorval is similarly unconstrained as the blazing hot white trash mom who will do anything in her power to protect what’s left of her family, while Dolan’s other go-to leading lady Clément is touchingly fragile, yet not without menace. The raw dependency that develops between the trio is both tender and heartbreaking. A 1990s-laden soundtrack of bouncy and doleful songs, ostensibly from a recovered mix tape, evokes shared memories of the absent dad.

Mommy is spectacularly volatile and dark to the core, and yet much of the film is shot in bright daylight or under warming sunsets, in turn reinforcing the film’s stark honesty and the enduring radiance of love and courage.

Practically sweeping the board at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards, and sharing the Cannes 2014 Jury Prize with Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language, this is an unsettling but deeply rewarding piece of filmmaking that embraces the complexities of its subject with confidence and relish. Where Dolan’s daring debut I Killed My Mother (2009), touching on similar themes of impossible parenthood, drew principally on his personal crises of puberty and teendom, Mommy has a wider existential sweep that gives viewers much more to ponder about freedom, family, responsibility and communication.

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