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Xavier Dolan – Mommy

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24 DECEMBER 2014

Xavier Dolan – Mommy


by Clara Gipponi

Twenty-fiveyears old, four movies appreciated and regularly participating at Cannes andVenice: this is Xavier Dolan.

He’s fromQuebec, and has been writing since he was sixteen years old, he directs, cuts,chooses the costumes and music for each one of his Works (the rhythm inModerat’s “A new error” in the movie "Laurence Anyways" isparticularly remarkable).

There isalways something self-referential and eccentric in his movies, Xavier rejoicesin that and does not attempt to hide it. In the middle, there is the man withhis compulsions, and the manifold ways by which he brings them to life. Despitebeing so young, Dolan digs in the ambiguity of the human soul, pierces thepsychological dynamics among the characters and explores the search for oneselfstarting from the acceptance or refusal of one’s own body.

Themes thatpulse of life in "Laurence Anyways", a multi-faceted, polyhedral workof art where a teacher in his thirties decides to leap out of the physicalboundaries that constrict him by becoming a woman. In his fierce andcontradictory path towards self-awareness, Laurence suffers refusal from hisown family.

As aself-declared homosexual, Dolan refuses any kind of rhetoric andsentimentalism, easy answers and comforting refrains, in order to depict themyopia of a society that does not know how to consider the persona as a beingif not starting from itsphysicality. Dolan slaps the contemporary hypocrisy of non-acceptance - or evenworse, of tolerance - of the “other” by means of costume mannerism andscenography, hyper-saturated images/photography, chromatic set excess, extremeclose-ups with constant focusing and Dadaistic captions. At Cannes Dolan winsin 2014 the Jury Prize with “Mommy”, going back to the theme of motherhood,which he had already tackled in his debut movie “J’ai tué ma mère”, theexpression of an individual rage, where the heartfelt search for sexualidentity strengthens with the obsession of the maternal figure. In his lastmovie, Dolan delves into the role of love as an instrument for a yearnedemotional balance. A peculiar understanding meanders among a single motherintolerant of rules, her sixteen-year-old hyperactive and disturbed son, and ashy neighbour woman, suffering from a lack of affection. Here Dolan wipes outthe off-screen, developing a portrait framing (1:1), in which he squeezes andtraps his characters in order to let them come out one by one in a syncopatedediting.

He has anabsolute control of filming technique, and uses it well in order to bring thespectators close to the characters’ afflictions. Dolan builds uppowerful images, unashamedly vital, as few directors have dared before.

The inconstant and hyperbolic characters that givelife to them keep a paradoxical credibility, showing themselves in all theircontradictions. 

Dolan is in love with himself and with his stories’protagonists with all their flaws, awkwardness, and diseases and, in return, wecan’t help falling in love with them.

Words Editor    Annie Markitanis

Laurence Anyways


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