Five years ago, Xavier Dolan was presenting his feature debut I Killed My Mother at the Directors’ Fortnight, a raw tale of a boy’s emotional endeavour to connect with his mother. Five films later, at the tender age of 25, he’s in the official competition with Mommy.
A widowed single mother, Diane, finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her explosive 15–year-old son, Steve, a sufferer of ADHD. As they try to make ends meet and struggle with their impetuous and unpredictable ménage, the new girl across the street, Kyla, benevolently offers needed support. Together, they find a new sense of balance in their lives, and hope is regained.
Everything about Mommy is handled with care and precision by the young director, including the unusual aspect ratio of the screen. Dolan’s vision tactfully encourages the viewer to focus on the details of everyday life; the things that make it beautiful and the things that make it hard. The characters, like the aspect ratio, challenge the perception of ‘normal’, reminding us that sometimes you have to push the limits in order to see the big picture and find hope.
The three actors are impeccable, giving their characters a rare depth from the first scene to the last. As they go through hell and back again, we share their laughter and their tears, their fears and their pain, but most of all we share their hope.
Set in a near future where a certain amendment has been approved regarding parents and their children, Mommy is a movie about love, limits and humanity.
Xavier Dolan’s feature is exactly what is to be expected at Cannes: a film that offers everything to its audience.
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Watch an extract from Mommy here: