Forty-six year old Diane Després - "Die" - has been widowed for three years. Considered white trash by many, Die does whatever she needs, including strutting her body in front of male employers who will look, to make an honest living. That bread-winning ability is affected when she makes the decision to remove her only offspring, fifteen year old Steve Després, from her previously imposed institutionalization, one step below juvenile detention. She institutionalized him shortly following her husband's death due to Steve's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and his violent outbursts. He was just kicked out of the latest in a long line of facilities for setting fire to the cafeteria, in turn injuring another boy. She made this decision to deinstitutionalize him as she didn't like the alternative, sending him into more restrictive juvenile detention from which he would probably never be rehabilitated. However, with this deinstitutionalization, she has to take care of him ...Written by
In a Montreal suburb, a single mother with financial and employment difficulties reunites with her violent teenage son who is being released from a detention centre. More chaos ensues.
It would be very tempting to call this film a "kitchen sink drama". There are many explosive scenes which are cathartic. Most films would have only a few such scenes, maybe only one at the climactic finale. While the catharsis might seem too much, every one of those scenes works well because of the great talent of director Xavier Dolan and his equally talented cast.
There are thankfully lighter scenes that show the love in the dysfunctional family and their ability to have fun especially as they are joined by a mysterious neighbour across the street, Kyla, who seems to have her own troubles. Her troubles seem lessened as she bonds with the unusual mother-son duo. Kyla's situation seems a bit too mysterious at times. As a subplot, it could have used a few hints to tap viewers further into the reasons why she prefers the family across the street to her own.
The film's greatest strengths are two scenes near the end. One is the perfectly executed climactic scene. The other is the one that follows - a very melancholy scene of transition with which most viewers could sadly identify.
As mentioned, Dolan has directed a superb cast. As the troubled teenager, Antoine Olivier Pilon has the perfect balance of rage and vulnerability. As the neighbour Kyla, Suzanne Clément is very believable as someone facing change and loosening up especially when she has fits of uncontrollable laughter. As the mother, Anne Dorval gives Dolan another superb performance as she did with "I Killed My Mother" (2009). Her range in the final two pivotal scenes display true brilliance. - dbamateurcritic
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT: Performance by Anne Dorval
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