“We still love each other, right?” asked Steve as her Mom assured him, “That’s what we’re best at, buddy.”
The piece of convocation depicted above was a reflection of how ironical Xavier Dolan’s Mommy would be. For whatever it is, the talented, young Dolan had crafted a mesmerizing tale of constriction and release—both figuratively and literally—with this film.
In 139 minutes, Dolan put the ferocious side of a mother’s love and anger in a square—caged them in a emotion-draining story as well as depicted almost everything in a square 1:1 frame ratio. Being the director as well as the editor, Dolan found freedom in outpouring his visions to the emotion in a visually mesmerizing piece of work. Eventually, the idiosyncratic visuals found a way to keep the narratives progressed—not as an exuberant decoration but as a vehicle.
While the narrative was a complex one; it’s a layered tale of mother-son relationship that went tense and emotional all the time. The mother, Diane (Dorval) embraced her violent teenage son, Steve (Pilon) with his latent ADHD, back to her; as she found her love back with horrendous consequences. It was never easy to raise a son like Steve as he only added up misery to her already messed up life. Yet, she found a hope when a shy neighbor (Suzanne Clément) suddenly showed up and got into their life.
The 1:1 ratio kept the focus more personally and enhanced the feeling of ‘constricted’ like the characters felt. While piles of emotional treats kept tightening, Dolan gave some air to breathe, hope to dream for for once or twice by giving space figuratively and literally (the screen ratio was enlarged to the actual ratio). That’s how the visuals work to enhance the viewing experience—in a blatant way.
As the Canada’s official submission for foreign language film at the 87th Academy Award as well as the winner of Grand Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival last year, Mommy was clearly not a low-key film—it’s a hi-fi score-settler presented in a complex, lo-fi art. Dolan’s double directing-editing was superfine; but the heart-wrenching performances from the trio (Dorval, Pilon, Clement) was the key to vivid emotions emanated by Mommy.
VERDICT: Xavier Dolan crafts a mesmerizing tale of constriction and release—both figuratively and literally—to depict the ferocious side of a mother’s love and anger. In his work, visual imagery as well as frame ratio are a key to story-telling, which confine the audience into a emotional catharsis.
Drama Written & Directed by: Xavier Dolan Starred by: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément Running Time: 139 mins Rated R for language throughout, sexual references and some violence