On aime sa mère presque sans le savoir, et on ne prend conscience de toute la profondeur des racines de cet amour qu’au moment de a sèparation dernière
We love our mothers unknowingly, and only realize how deep-rooted that love is at the ultimate separation.
―Guy de Maupassant.
J’ai Tué Ma Mère also known as I Killed My Mother, is a debut feature film of Quebecois film director Xavier Dolan, who directed, wrote, and acted in the film. The film script was written by Dolan when he was 16 and claimed it to be his own autobiographical tale of his relationship with his mother. He directed the film when he was 19/20 years old. The film receive 8 minute standing ovation when it was shown in 2009 Cannes Film Festival and gained International press attention.
Before i misled you by the title and the two images above, there’s no literal murder happened in the film. Instead, this is a rather hysterical tale of an adolescent boy, Hubert Minel, and his love/hate relationship with his mother, Chantal Lemming (Anne Dorval). A character piece that centers around an 18 years-old highschool boy, his single mother, and the frustrating misunderstood feelings shared between them. Their animosity reach its culmination point when Chantal found out about his son’s sexuality from the mother of his son’s boyfriend. The thing is Hubert perceived the relationship between his boyfriend and his libertine mother as an ideal of how a relationship should be, constantly made Chantale seem like the nagging, annoying, and at times downright embarrassing. While i never had this kind of animosity with my own parents, in some way it was so relatable and accessible, albeit the agitated emotions can be quote overwhelming. Both were enraged with certain degree of resentment, yet there’s an unmistakable tenderness exchanged between them. A traditional, yet non-romantic, story of love.
The strength of the film lies in the dialogue as it ricochet from Hubert and Chantale in their many, many fights. They are unpredictable and seems deliberately spontaneous, sometimes seems vicious yet there were some hilarity within it, a rare traits to be find in films. Dolan interspersed the storyline with footage of self-recorded confession/rants, which brought us to a very personal distance to his Hubert. Perhaps we would never truly symphatize with his character, maybe we found him rather petulant and angry. But it was still very intriguing to see how him and the mother handle the so-called conflicts in their relationships, sometimes not so effortlessly. Artistic images were sometimes inserted perhaps to heighten the emotion of the characters, but sometimes feels like a distraction or just simply a self-indulgent stylistic choice without real substance. Visually, Dolan seems to be borrowing the style of other directors (Godard, Truffaut), Wong Kar Wai‘s vibrant style and music immediately come to mind. Dolan’s prominent aesthetic might have overwhelmed the realism nature of the script, but i enjoyed that contrast and found it to be a pulling factor instead.
Coming across this film by a (happy) accident, it became a beginning my love affair with Xavier Dolan. I found myself charmed by both his aptitude for writing scripts with amusing dialogues, as well as his self-indulged artistic flair. The film might have more flaws that i’m turning a blind eye to, and i look forward for him to found his personal style, but for a first feature film, this is pretty darn good.
Xavier Dolan won three awards for I Killed My Mother at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, including C.I.C.A.E. Award, Prix Regards Jeune, and SACD Prize from the Directors’ Fortnight. The film also received other nomination and accolades from different festivals in International circuit, including International Film Festival Rotterdam Moviesquad Award, Golden Puffin Reykjavik International Film Festival, Grand Prix 2MORROW at Moscow, Jury Prize for Best Canadian Film, Vancouver International Film Festival, etc. The film was Canada official entry to the Best Foreign Film category of The 82nd Academy Awards.
J’AI TUÉ MA MÈRE / I KILLED MY MOTHER (2009)
GENRE Biopic, Drama
DIRECTOR Xavier Dolan | PRODUCER Xavier Dolan, Carole Mondello, Daniel Mornin | WRITER Xavier Dolan | MUSIC Nicholas Savard-L’Herbier, Sylvain Brassard | CINEMATOGRAPHER Stéphanie Weber-Biron, Nicolas Canniccioni | EDITOR Xavier Dolan, Hélène Girard | STUDIO Mifilifilms | DISTRIBUTOR Rézo Films (France), K Films Amerique (Canada), Kino Lorber (US) | COUNTRY Canada | RELEASE May 18, 2009 (Cannes) | RUNNING TIME 96 minutes | BUDGET CAD $450,000-800,000
STARRING Xavier Dolan, Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément, François Arnaud