It has taken five years and as many feature films for Xavier Dolan to feature in Competition. The youngest of the 18 selected, the 25-year-old is presenting Mommy, a feature-length film in which he once again explores the relationship between a mother and a son. The director has teamed up with the actresses who contributed to the success of his past films Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément and they are joined by Antoine Olivier Pilon.
A return home. Diane takes custody of her son, Steve, who for many years has bounced from one care centre to another. She is an eternal adolescent and he is a teenager suffering from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Both will have to learn to live together. Their mysterious stammering neighbour Kyla guides them towards a certain stability.
Xavier Dolan has developed a reputation for strong characters. In Mommy, he has opted for a square aspect ratio to highlight their traits and personalities: "The square it creates perfectly frames the faces and represents the ideal in terms of painting a portrait," explains Xavier Dolan. "One's gaze is drawn towards it."
Two actresses that have contributed to the director's trademark style star in the film. Suzanne Clément, who won the Un Certain Regard award for best actress in 2012 for her role in Laurence Anyways, alongside Anne Dorval, who has been a key part of the director's work since the start of his career in 2009. A new addition, Antoine Olivier Pilon, completes the cast. At 16, the young actor has already worked with Dolan for the video of Indochine's College Boy, also filmed in a square aspect ratio.
The three actors explore the torment of the mother-son relationship, a recurrent theme for the director and the very essence of I Killed My Mother (J’ai tué ma mère). This time, he adopts the mother's point of view, as the title suggests. The approach is more nuanced, with characters lost in their feelings and unable to express them clearly.
The mood is dark and the emotions troubled but Xavier Dolan opens the field of possibilities. A great aesthete, he perfects the looks and uses bright lighting, enhancing the decor with bright and colourful touches. "It was essential that the film be a shining story about courage, transmission, love and friendship." A touch of hope and a cry of love for his mommy.
Thursday 22nd May / Grand Théâtre Lumière / 12 p.m. - 9.30 p.m.