Quick Review: I Killed My Mother (2009)

First Dolan film! Don’t really have a lot of unique insight into this one, so I’ll keep it short…

The angst here is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Then-19-year-old Xavier Dolan’s Cannes premiering debut feature I Killed My Mother rightfully made waves for other reasons apart from the directors’ age, it’s interesting and visually bold and clearly trying for a style, with quite a few influences at play (most notably, Almodovar) and avoids some trappings of a teenager making a semi-autobiographical film, making the avatar of himself no perfect human. However, it falls into a few holes mainly in the plot device of reflective handheld camera interviews, sometimes excessive kitsch and occasional repetition. It runs at just over 90 minutes, but already I felt like it was going around in circles sometimes. A typical scene:

Xavier Dolan/Hubert: Mum, can i do this?

Chantale: Sure

Next scene
Dolan/Hubert: Mum, i’m going to do this now
Chantale: No, you’re not allowed!
Dolan/Hubert: BUT YOU SAID. MUM I HATE YOU, I’M MOVING OUT.

(repeat x5)

It could be interpreted as the neverending conflict and ~misunderstandings between teenagers and parents which just go round and round in circles, making it even more so a depiction of a mother by a teenager (which it definitely is), but ultimately, it just feels like a broken record and turns you against the main character. I Killed My Mother becomes almost hyper-realism at times, with its cartoonish characters with garish sweaters and exaggerated movements and speech and saturation of icons, symbols and almost still-life fantasties/daydreams/reenactments. It’s not a film that I resonated or connected with much, but I definitely feel that it’ll be an interesting work to return to as Dolan’s career continues. It’s about a million times the film I could ever make, let alone right now at 19 years old.

Rating: 3/5

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