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May 31, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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I Killed My Mother

I Killed My Mother
Director: Xavier Dolan

I Killed My Mother will undoubtedly become the film of the year for all those indie kids hanging out at the top of Cuba Street. It is almost the perfect film for indie kids. But the film, like the work of many young artists, is misshapen, both in form and content. It is a mish-mash and plays like the work of a film obsessed art student unsure of what medium he is working in.

I Killed My Mother is the story of Hubert Minel (Dolan), a high school student who hates his mother. Hubert’s issues with his mother are unfounded. The midpoint of the film reveals Hubert as a gay man, but despite Hubert’s obvious discomfort around his sexuality, he is too much of a selfish bigot to care about. The script forces social issues down your throat in large, difficult to digest chunks, most notably single parenting and coming to terms with sexuality. The problem with the film is that it offers a weak narrative and no entry point into any of the lives of any of the characters, creating a work that is difficult to engage with.

One would at least expect the film to be impressive visually, but Dolan borrows too heavily from the techniques of many of the past decade’s top directors. Aronofskyian symmetry and montage, Wong Kar Wai’s repeated use of the same song over slow motion tracking shots, Andersonian two-shots of characters in odd environments. To top off his blatant plagiarism, Dolan frames the rest of the film with unbalanced compositions and repeatedly places large chunks of text from letters that characters are reading in the middle of the frame. When it isn’t plagiarising it is a unique-looking film, but it isn’t any better for it.

I Killed My Mother is definitely cinema of the 21st century, a cinema which is French New Wave meets Noughties auteurs, for the YouTube generation. Dolan definitely has talent, but he needs to develop his own style. What the film lacks is a good story or characters. What the film lacks is originality. What the film lacks is subtlety. But the film got into Cannes. Go figure.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Hugh says:

    A lot of stuff gets into Cannes. But I agree, the film isn’t particularly smooth, and when it isn’t busy plagiarising other stuff (you picked up on a lot more than I did! Though I was only half-paying attention…) it’s not terrible.

    In contrast, Dolan’s next feature, Les Amours Imaginaires, which played at Cannes this month, looks really really good:

  2. Hugh says:

    Tried to embed this, but obviously it didn’t work:

  3. Carolyn says:

    Agree. Good review Ian

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