Teenager Hubert haughtily regards his mother with contempt, and only sees her tacky sweaters and kitsch decorations. In addition to these irritating surface details, there is also his parent's cherished mechanisms of manipulation and guilt. Confused by this love/hate relationship that obsesses him more and more each day, Hubert drifts through the mysteries of adolescence - artistic discoveries, illicit experiences, the opening-up to friendship, and ostracism. The turbulent relationship between mother and son unfolds with a compelling combination of savage fury and melting affection. The stunning, semi-autobiographical directing debut of 20-year-old actor Xavier Dolan. Written by
Warsaw Film Festival
I Killed My Mother is a Canadian film in French with English subtitles. The film focuses on the relationship between a 16 year old named Hubert and his mother Chantale. To say that they do not always get along is an understatement. Yet with all the verbal abuse between one another and the tension, they do still love each other and may soon realize that perhaps they can not live without one another. Chantale was not ready to become a mother and in a lot of ways, still is not, even though her son Hubert is now 16. We see Chantale as ego centric sometimes, but mainly just in her own world and the concerns of Hubert are not always hers and when he tells her something, she soon forgets and in a lot of ways she can have temper tantrums and be just as immature as a child at times when things are not going her way. Hubert is a teenager, which anyone can tell you is one of the most complex and stressful parts of one's life and growing up. Hubert is starting to find love and creativity in what he does, but he often feels that Chantale does not appreciate him, let him have his own space, or even acknowledge that he is there a lot of the time and his feelings, needs and concerns mean little to her, or if they have any significance, she soon forgets them. Hubert is coming to a point in his life where he is hiding quite a bit from his mother and perhaps if they were closer this would not be the case, but it makes it all the more difficult for him. One thing that I really liked about the film was that it does not place blame for the poor state of the relationship solely on Chantale and neither does it place all the responsibility, or fault on Hubert. Like any family that is going to work, or be somewhat functional, it takes the efforts and input from everyone involved to make it work, not just one individual alone. The film is told from Hubert's perspective and even he admits that there are things he still loves about his mother and we can see from her body language and the way she acts that deep down she still really cares for him and perhaps the problem is that she has too much other stuff on her mind. The character development and just the handling of the story is fantastically done. It takes a subject most of us would have some insight on in one way or another and gives us different ways of looking at it. At times what we are watching is very unsettling and hard to watch at times, at other times it is very realistic and no matter what type of background, or family you come from, you can not help, but reflect on your own childhood and relationship to your own parent, or guardian. The writing establishing these characters and their own problems, needs and ways of reaching out is pretty realistic and is all the more believable because of fine dialogue and top notch acting. Both, Xavier Dolan (Hubert) and Anne Dorval (Chantale) give fearless performances here going to places with their characters and their psyches and the way they pull it off with energy, sadness, facial and body language is terrific. The script and the film's direction which is also from Dolan is at times haunting, poetically beautiful at other times and it always feels so real and like he has captured life through his art. Not an easy thing to do and here he does an amazing job. Dolan wrote, directed and starred in this film at the age of 19 and this film is just as good as a film from a much older or experienced director, writer or actor. This is a terrific debut for him and mark my words because this guy is going places in a big way. I can not wait till I see what he comes out with next. I Killed My Mother has a power that stays with us and leaves us with thoughts and reflections of our own past and what we have just seen on the screen. The film does not give us any easy answers, but instead gives us room and time to digest and think more about what we have seen and I think in some ways this is a life changing film because it had an impact on me and made me look at these type of situations in a different way and I imagine it will have the same affect on other viewers. This is a towering achievement of excellence in every possible way. I Killed My Mother will go down in film books, will be studied in university film classes one day and can have some pretty scholarly people writing about it, just because there is so much here. This is probably the best film I have seen in the theatre for a long time and I could not recommend it enough. A true masterpiece.
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