If you die today, I’ll die tomorrow
“I killed my mother”, the unsettling debut feature by Xavier Dolan. The then barely teen french wonder would go on to write, direct and Star a movie that’s packed full of sentiment, rage and shouts for independence.
The story of Hubert, a teenager who loves his mother but not as a mother. He struggles with identity issues, loneliness and rebellious freedom, as anyone of us would. He wants to go live in his own place, fuck with his boyfriend and probably choose better taste furniture, apparently.
From the premise of the single mom who also struggles with her own desires and needs, all while trying to give her son the best life and education ever. Back in my early twenties I would (and have) relate a lot to the brat Dolan so honestly portrays (he said a lot of the stuff in the film was biographically inspired). Nowadays, I tend to fall best into the mother’s side. She was the one “killed”, and also the one grieving (and what a performance delivered by goddess Anne Durval).
Young as he was, the filmmaker chose some tropes that he learned how to better convey in the many movies prior to that, like the self exposé Hubert keeps filming in his bathroom to display the anxieties the character has. The “show not tell” rule was well ignored, even though the scenes are okay, the movie works better without it.
A lot of the now signature stylistic Dolan’s gimmicks are there from beginning, like characters filmed from behind, dream sequences, flashy dialogues, geometric composition, slow motion and fast motion, the use of smoke, color for emotion. The brilliance he lacks acting in this first one he compensates wonderfully and the way he shot and edited the film.
Premiered in Cannes, a rare feat for a debut, even for a french white dude, it peaks today as Dolan in his roughly honestly ever. I’ll undoubtedly watch it again.