Film Review: “Mommy” (2014)


When it comes to a child’s safety and his well being, a mother knows the best way to take care of her infant. But what if that infant has trouble controlling his temper due to a severe sickness, where he can easily harm anyone, even his mother, who more than anyone in this world would be his guardian? Xavier Dolan’s Mommy tells the story of making difficult choices in an impossible situation, where only a parent could have known exactly what to do.

Steve is a mentally ill teenager whose tendency towards violence puts him in the hospital. This is when his loving and caring Mother, Diane, is introduced to the viewer, when she once again is there to save her son from trouble. Once Steve appears, we see him using sensitive language, displaying disrespectful behaviour towards seniors, and also his mother, who patiently swallows everything that comes out of her son’s mouth. Eventually the moment comes when Diane finally realizes that there is only one way to deal with his uncontrolled sickness and that is to allow him to be the way he wants to be.

The interesting part of the film begins when their neighbor, Kyla, a former teacher with a speech problem, appears in front of Diane’s house. Dolan shows that there is some hope that Steve can change himself because of Kyla, who is very kind to him. That kindness changes Steve, making him a more loveable character. But somehow, despite his changing attitude, some viewers might find themselves not cheering for him due to his dangerously explosive personality.

As the film progresses, we as well as Diane, await a miracle, and even though it will come, it takes way too much time for Dolan to accomplish. This is probably the main problem of the film –it is unnecessarily long – with almost two hours and twenty minutes of running time. This only distracts the viewer from the main plot, but not completely. The most unusual aspect of the film are the amplifying emotions of the characters. For example, when Diane has an argument with Steve, or when Diane swallows her tears, anger, and feelings of helplessness in the moment; I certainly would call Anne Dorval’s performance master-class and superb throughout the entire film.

Dolan handled the difficult situations occurring in the film well, the entire time, leaving all his emotions behind the camera. This allowed his character to talk more with fear than rationality, which makes the situation for Diane seem even more helpless and terrifying. Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément have delivered one of the most difficult performances of their careers, which make this film an absolute delight to watch. This is why Dolan`s Mommy is a win-win film, due to the full dedication of the actors, who transformed themselves and put themselves into the shoes of their characters. Antoine-Olivier Pillon as Steve, is convincing, however, there is something missing in his performance, which is not that easy to explain. It seems Pilon enjoys playing his character more than he actually understands him, which makes him a little bit difficult to accept.

In conclusion, Mommy is one of those films that everybody who loves Dolan`s work must see. Mommy is an emotionally charged film, leaving the sentimental part out of scope – almost made in a cold-blooded way. It certainly has something to teach us, for instance; only those who can predict the future can prevent it by adjusting the present. Saying that, it`s all about time and place that has an influence on our choices, which may have either pleasant, or unpleasant, consequences. And when such a burden falls on a mother, she, as no one else, will know what is best for her child, because hope is something she can`t affords to have…

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