At the ripe age of sixteen, Dolan wrote the premise for I Killed My Mother and at the age of twenty, he began directing it. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival, and received a standing ovation, a response which the film so dearly deserved. As well as the director, he is also the producer, writer and lead actor in the introspective drama, displaying Dolan’s multi-faceted talent as a committed and dynamic creative, which only promises a successful career for the young film-maker.
The story follows the tumultuous relationship between Hubert Minel (Xavier Dolan), and his mother Chantale Lemming (Anne Doraval). Neither of the pair are better than the other, they both have stubborn and selfish qualities, which fuels their explosive arguments and ends them with extreme frustration. Ironically, he explains to his high school teacher “I wasn’t born to have a mother”, but admits later that he would kill anyone who would hurt her. This duality is evident in the final scene where Hubert finds comfort in the arms of his mother, following an upsetting event that occurs outside his boarding school, which she sent him to without his consent.
Dolan explains that this film is about the roles life hands to us, that we must fulfil, even if you don’t feel completely invested in them. By this he means the families we are born into, forced to love unconditionally and accept entirely, without any consideration into whether or not our personalities will be compatible.
The director is renowned for his incredibly intricate mise-en-scènes, which give away a lot more about the storyline and characters than the dialogue itself. For instance, the interior design of his mother’s house is incredibly kitschy; filled with animal print, floral motifs and the type of ceramics you would so often find at a car boot sale. This is the antithesis of Hubert’s taste, who chooses the bathroom to film his monologues of discontent, perhaps the only space in his mother’s house which could be described as minimalistic. The conflict in style symbolises their conflict of interest, and also results in some more conflict.
After this film, Dolan continued to create art house films, ones which include Tom at the Farm (2013) and Mommy (2014). In total directing six films since the release of I Killed My Mother, displaying the film-makers endless creative vision.
I Killed My Mother
director XAVIER DOLAN
director of photography STÉPHANIE WEBER-BIRON, NICOLAS CANNICCIONI
cast XAVIER DOLAN, ANNE DORVAL, SUZANNE CLÉMENT, FRANÇOIS ARNAUD and NIELS SCHNEIDE
words PRIYESH PATEL
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