The latest work from now 25 year old Xavier Dolan, widely considered the best director prodigy in the film industry, presented his 5th full length feature, Mommy.
This is Dolan’s first feature to be in competition in the main category Palme d’Or of the Cannes Film Festival.
This film follows a widowed mother Diane (portrayed by Anne Dorval), her difficult and angst filled teenage son Steven (Antoine Oliver Pilon) and their timid but mentally disturbed neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clement). The stage is set for a tumultuous ride and potentially heart wrenching ending with simple wording of a futuristic law in Canada that permits parents of a minor to involuntarily commit the minor indefinitely without due process of law.
Dorval gives a masterful performance as a widowed lower class unemployed harlot caught between the need to pursue her own path after the devastating loss of her husband three years prior and the saving her son from jail or commitment after he spent the majority of time since his father’s death in juvenile detention, with no real end in sight. Dorval’s character chooses to attempt having him live with her. Pilon also gives a stunningly convincing portrayal of the out of control Steven, who swings back and forth from tyrannical rage to his calm point of being a rude, uncouth, agitated troublemaker. Clement adds a calming influence to Pilon’s character after a horrifying exchange of two characters who both possess significant inner demons.
Dolan tempered the mood of the film with happy times the three shared together with brilliant camerawork and settings. All of this led to an ending that surely was foreseeable as Pilon’s character was taken to commitment. The scene was disguised well for the unsuspecting viewer as they took a trip to the lake for a day of frolic just before hand, much like a bad pet owner may take an undisciplinable dog for one last hurrah before dropping them off at the pound. The heartache and struggle of the scene was very powerful as Dorval’s character had regret, while Pilon’s was out of control.
While the film was dark, it offered some insight into the struggles of people dealing with loved ones with significant mental health problems that are often hard to believe unless you witness them yourself, as well as the choices and consequences one must face when the hard decision must be made.