Wednesday, 25 March 2015

REVIEW - MOMMY (XAVIER DOLAN)


To be fair to Xavier Dolan's Mommy, it lets you know early on exactly what type of film it intends to be. Perhaps, then, don't allow yourself to be fooled by its bracing, brazen intensity, though do allow yourself to be seduced by it, by all means. This garish portrait of life in all its glorious gaucheries is a genuine piece of pop culture and as charmingly contemporary as any film you'll see - who'd have thought it from a filmmaker seemingly too concerned with his own position in the history of film to pause and observe that history as it occurs? For Dolan, whatever broader context this might imply is shunted out by a restrictive aspect ratio, one of many gimmicks that reveal themselves to be valid storytelling tools in such expressive, perceptive usage. Just about everything that Dolan throws at Mommy is bold and potentially crass, yet employed so ideally herein that one's critical eyes are softened, these tools obviously no less eligible manipulations of the cinematic form than any more 'prestigious' ones. Dolan makes you respond positively - he shows you what you thought couldn't be done, not what you always knew could be. When his artistic ambition extends to his plotting, though, you'll see what shouldn't have been done. Granted, you knew it was coming, but Dolan can't find any tools in his arsenal to make these narrative contrivances palatable; if, at least, they provide his actors with scope to pour their hearts out in impressive, varied fashion, they're hardly unique in even that, not in this film. The sour inevitability of Mommy's missteps and their growing frequency erodes the forgiveness developed earlier in the film, when minor stylistic indulgences appeared more like canny artistic reflection of the emotional instability of the characters. Beloved by some, reviled by others, Xavier Dolan still has much maturing to do as a filmmaker, but he's already done far more than I imagined he ever would.