One of the most jaw-dropping movies in recent years, this blackly comical drama is the most audacious work yet from Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. It's also the 25-year-old's fifth film, after I Killed My Mother, Heartbeats, Laurence Anyway, Tom at the Farm, all of which have won various awards (including Mommy, which received the 2014 Cannes Jury Prize). But even for the ambitious Dolan, this is seriously full-on, an adrenaline rush of a movie that leaves us feeling fully alive.
The film opens as toughened survivor Diana (Anne Dorval) agrees to let her 15-year-old tearaway son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) move back home after a stint in mental-institute lockdown. He may be violent and uncontrollably hyperactive, but she can't bear to see him transferred to an adult facility. On arriving home, this strong-willed mother and son immediately lock horns. And Diana isn't sure how to cope, although she gets some assistance from two neighbours: Paul (Patrick Huard) is clearly in love with Diana and offers to help her sort out Steve's legal problems, while the darkly troubled Kyla (Suzanne Clement) has a surprising calming effect on Steve. Together, these four people are a very fragile makeshift family.
With his script and direction, Dolan ramps up the intensity right from the start, allowing the characters to scream violently at each other in ways that cleverly display their underlying affection. It's an uncanny trick that's augmented by artfully brilliant cinematography that starts out in a square box then broadens out across the screen to reflect the mor ehopeful mood shifts. Dolan also deploys music in a fiercely inventive way that underlines the emotional resonance (although there's a strange gap where a proper song feels like it's missing from the final-act montage). Every scene is so finely constructed that the emotions explode from the screen, forcing the audience to brace itself for whatever comes next.
Continue reading: Mommy Review
Diane Després (Anne Dorval) has recently lost her husband. As a newly widowed mother, she is left trying to raise her ADHD son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon) by herself. When she sees a new neighbour move into the house across the street, she decides that she's going to meet her, and ask her for some help raising her son. As Diane tries to press Steve with some hard love, she is overcome with not only her motherly instinct, but the knowledge that her son is a very good child, even if he's violent. But will even a mother's love endure the challenges they still have left to face?
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By taking a warm, witty approach to a rather outrageous situation, Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott helps us see past the plot holes to the underlying emotional resonance. And the result is a startlingly engaging comedy that not only keeps us laughing but also gets us thinking about what parenthood really means.
The story centres on an irresponsible Montreal butcher, David (Huard), who works for his dad (Ovadis) and does as little work as he can. His pregnant cop girlfriend (LeBreton) has finally had enough of this and tells him she wants to raise their child on her own. Then he discovers that after donating sperm nearly 20 years earlier, he has fathered 533 children, and 142 of them have filed a lawsuit to discover the identity of their donor "Starbuck". With a lawyer friend (Bertrand) fighting to protect his anonymity, David decides to find out more about these young people, working his way into their lives as a kind of guardian angel. Which of course sparks a sense of paternal responsibility.
The script focusses on human interaction rather than trying to make the premise believable. There's no mention that these young people actually have families of their own (one reference to "adoptive" parents is actually offensive). And the events in which David gets involved in the lives of his "children" aren't entirely plausible. But Huard gives David a scruffy charm that's infectious: we can understand why these strangers warm to him. And even as the script throws all kinds of obstacles in his way (including the global press getting hold of the story), we know he'll manage to make it through and probably triumph in the process.
Continue reading: Starbuck Review
David Wozniak is an irresponsible 42-year-old delivery man for a butcher's shop who is thousands of dollars deep in debt and maintains a rocky relationship with a young police woman called Valerie who believes him to be an immature slob. When she falls pregnant, she and David both have mixed feelings about whether or not he could really father a child but soon things take an even more dramatic turn when he is visited by someone who informs him that, following a spate of sperm donation that David took part in in his youth under the name Starbuck, he now has 533 biological children with 142 of those desperate to meet the real Starbuck and are willing to sue the fertility clinic to do so. Originally desperate to avoid the situation, his curiosity gets the better of him when he is posted details of the profiles of his 'children'. His discovery that he is the biological father of a popular footballer entices him to find out more about the others and he begins to follow them covertly to look into their lives against his best friend and lawyer's advice.
This bizarre comedy has been directed by Ken Scott ('Sticky Fingers', 'Seducing Doctor Lewis') who also co-wrote it with Martin Petit in his feature film screenwriting debut. It is set to be released in the UK on November 23rd 2012.