J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother) (Xavier Dolan, 2009)
Considered as the young prodigy of Quebecois Cinema, Xavier Dolan’s first feature is a not so juvenile effort. Far from being the masterpiece that many chauvinist film critics of the Province of Québec shouted out loud, J’ai tué ma mère is an inspired indie film about a sixteen years old son and his tumultuous relationship with his mother (Anne Dorval). Dolan himself often stated that it is semi-autobiographic and his relationship with Antonin (François Arnaud) as lovers might be one of the elements that reflected his own life. However, the character of the teacher Ms. Cloutier (Suzanne Clément), as the substitute mother might represent his real mother that was a teacher.
This is a complex film that deals with issues that many sons or daughters may have had or are having with their parents as teenagers. Dolan understood, just like Yasujiro Ozu, that telling a story about family is always a winner even if it’s made a little bit artsy, off beat, and even with a slow rhythm. They are ageless stories that can apply universally. It is also a little bit quirky in the decors and the depiction of his mother and their very pedestrian life. It seemed like she was from another decade than the story is set.
The story is fresh and interesting and the actors are well directed. Especially, Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément who are two of the best Québecoises actresses working today. Dorval has a sensibility and a range that surpasses good local talent. This is a lifetime performance in symbiosis with Dolan who portrays her son. It is their communicating problems and they can’t get along together. At this age, seventeen years old, many boys and girls have had difficulties getting along with their parents. Their relationship might be a just extract of a difficult one. However, the script being solely based on their disputes and the duality of their love/hate link might be a little exhausting. This is a mandatory film in Dolan’s young and promising career, but I think that I won,t be watching this again.
Finally, I found it fresh to see the first film of Québec’s « enfant terrible », I’ve been late on this one but I must admit having been intrigued by the buzz and now wanting to get to Les amours imaginaires, Laurence Anyways, and the recently presented at Venice : Tom à la ferme.