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I Killed My Mother Reviews

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Christian C

Super Reviewer

February 17, 2014
A remarkable film from an 19 year old. Insightful and unflinchingly critical. Beautifully shot.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

May 17, 2013
A very raw, honest, touching but funny look (semi-autobiographical too apparently) at the relationship between a young man and his mother. Xavier Dolan is fast becoming a young actor/director to look out for, Heartbeats was one of my favourite films of 2010. In I killed my Mother, Dolan conquers the art of acting and directing perfectly, and at such a young age, relatively speaking and not meaning to sound patronising but it's a very tricky thing to do and a lot of talented people who try, fail. Three films down, it's looking like it comes naturally and I'm really looking forward to seeing more from him in the future.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2010
Xavier Dolan is a really talented, promissing young director. His filmmaking debut is a sensitive and involving approach to a semi-autobiographical subject, a story that balances subtle humor and compelling drama in a more than satisfying way.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2010
Holy crap was this intense, checked it out in June on a short trip to Montreal. Very personal, very painful film, a little immature but an incredibly heavy depiction of a boy losing touch with his mother. Run time might have been only about an hour and a half, I honestly felt like I was in the theatre all day. This film was lauded at Cannes and rightfully so, it's like a more intense Denys Arcand work and with any luck, young M. Dolan will join his forebear at the top of Quebecois and Canadian cinema in due time. A gripping film that everyone should see (once they get the subtitles on it and release it south of the 49th parallel, should be September '09).
Mike T

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2010
Xavier Dolan shows extreme capabilities as a writer, director, and actor. This film is no small feat, and it appears to be a sign of great things to come. As a young person who has basically given up on dreams of parttaking in the film industry, Dolan's accomplishments mean a lot to me. He has made a mature, complex, emotional masterpiece.
meril l

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2010
Simply brilliant. We've all been there - as a teenager, and perhaps also as a parent - had stupid arguments over nothing, then made up a second later; wanted to run away from home, or actually done it... for a few hours; at once loved and hated the person closest to us. Dolan depicts all of these things and magically does not fall in to stereotypes - these characters are real, and they are unique. They may yell at each other constantly, but they are not hateful - they are complex, and that is what makes them so magnificently interesting.
Noah N

Super Reviewer

July 24, 2012
Xavier Dolan's impressive debut film 'I Killed My Mother (J'ai tué ma mère)' (2008) is emotionally deep look at a boy's relationship with his mother. Its sterling, passionate, intensely performed; not only just a powerful coming-of-age story but generally a powerful film.
Robert F

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2010
What makes it extraordinary is its depth of feeling. One of the most moving and truthful movies I have seen in years.
Laurence C

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2010
It is strikingly obvious that young Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan has got the strongest grip on an expansive, articulate cinematic vision of his own. Written, directed, produced and headlined by himself, J'ai Tue Ma Mere plays like a semi-autobiographical therapy that x-rays the flailing relationship between a closeted teenager and his mother. If anything, the end result is an interesting change of pace from the all-too-resemblant mainstream filmscape here in Quebec. Unfortunately, the whole exercise is also a pretty good reminder why film school students are usually asked to go through more than just a couple of rewrites before they are given cameras and proper distribution.

Not that J'ai Tue Ma Mere is too personal for its own good, for nearly everyone who's been through adolescence can relate to those strange and devouring breakdowns concerning the mommy'n'daddy relationships. Really, it's not so much about *why* than it is about *how* the communication deteriorates, and Dolan clearly understands that-- indeed, the motives that push Hubert Minel and his mother into their confrontational crazes aren't tragic or insurmountable, but they are indeed evidence that the two have grown to be different, separate human beings. Incompatible manners, opposite tastes in aesthetics, dissimilar priorities... all of these issues ring true. We come very quickly to understand that the problematic nature of bond exists mostly because both are forced to fit into the mother/son mold, and that Hubert would very probably like his mother if she simply wasn't his mother. But Dolan doesn't seem to trust his scenes on their own, and what bubbles underneath the facade is quickly brought to the surface-- all thanks to uneven subjective fantasy flashes, or redundant black-and-white intermissions full of closeups in which Hubert directly speaks the camera.

For its few genuine moments of raw emotion, the film ends up feeling much too didactic, and not solely because of what is said about what's happening onscreen, but also because of how precious little is shown without commentary-- Dolan's directing is a bit of a mixed bag. He evidently tries an ambitious patchwork of style effects, a few of them superb, a few of them just bad and a whole of them simply too obvious. The unease isn't expressed, it's highlighted; the sorrow isn't evoked, it's spilled everywhere; the frustration isn't channeled, it's jolted right out of proportion. His stylistic choices aren't organically brought into the story-- they emerge rather loudly, distancing us from the picture. The cramped, purposedly flat compositions coated with low lightings also make sure everything we watch has to happen in a boxed-in universe, even when it's not about Hubert and his mother. For example, the gentle connection he feels with a caring school teacher (played by Suzanne Clement), is even handled with the same visual heavy-handedness. We are left to wonder if all human rapports in J'ai Tue Ma Mere are meant to look so suffocating, or if the mise en scene simply plays it sullen for style's sake.

Even if the central characters are meant to occupy all the space in the film, we get the feeling that their surroundings are underdevelopped. Indeed, the supporting players often dive into outright caricature, leaving them as cyphers that hardly seem to exist outside of their purpose to the main conflict. Therefore, the artistic boyfriend & his outrageously cool mum, the distant father, the kindhearted teacher and such all appear to have no intrinsec personality, even if the are portrayed by skillful performers. Really, Dolan only seems to keep the focus for himself and his mother, which is on par with the film's goals but leaves little breathing room or nuance for every other element or theme in the film. The character of Hubert himself only elicits shades of sympathy, and the tendency that Dolan has to victimize him (he is attacked by homophobes later in the story, and he decides to say nothing) badly contrasts with the unrelenting arrogance that surrounds his persona & motives. His performance is very mannered, to say the least, but at least it serves the character just right. He nevertheless manages to draw a brave, full-on portrayal from Anne Dorval, who brings a distinct sensibility to a role that easily might've been played as hysterically as her son's. The quality-varying dialogue sounds just right when she delivers it, and she sells her tremendous confusion and anger without doing it too broadly.

Nevertheless, we can sense that this whole introspection isn't something that has had enough time to cook, and while I'm all for capturing feelings while they're fresh and untouched (especially when working with the theme of adolescence), J'ai Tue Ma Mere is a film that might have benefited from a more succint approach, or at least a couple more years of gestation. It's enough to see Xavier Dolan's obvious talent and cinematic ardor, but as a film experience, it doesn't go down very smoothly. J'ai Tue Ma Mere remains interesting in its essence, but it sadly tells too much and shows too little.
RicC
April 8, 2011
Never boring to be sure, but if the director guy is anything like his character self then he deserves all the hardships he gets, harping on and on with a relatively innocent mother figure, and giving youths and gays a bad name stereotyping them as misogynist and superficial, spoiled defenseless brats. Exaggeration and character consistency are the only strong points; the theme was hard to take seriously.
July 1, 2014
He is young and talented, damm talented
May 29, 2014
I love these types of movies. The type that force themselves inside my head, grab what I don't want to see and, present it explicitly on screen.
March 15, 2014
once again, the best Canadian film comes out of Quebec. I've heard plenty about Xavier Dolan and the hype is real. How can someone this young make such an assured film. Unbelievably good.
Christian C

Super Reviewer

February 17, 2014
A remarkable film from an 19 year old. Insightful and unflinchingly critical. Beautifully shot.
February 6, 2014
I really thought this movie was fantastic. And visually appealing.
Noah N

Super Reviewer

July 24, 2012
Xavier Dolan's impressive debut film 'I Killed My Mother (J'ai tué ma mère)' (2008) is emotionally deep look at a boy's relationship with his mother. Its sterling, passionate, intensely performed; not only just a powerful coming-of-age story but generally a powerful film.
December 19, 2013
Upon watching my first Xavier Dolan film, "Heartbeats", I wasn't impressed. The film was just a pretty face: aesthetically pleasing but lacking any merit beyond superficiality. Dolan did show genuine talent with visuals, effectively creating moods using tools like unusual shot perspectives, lighting, and colors but I honestly didn't care what was happening beyond that and checked out mentally early on. I did see glimpses of something more but the characters were of a quality that was jarring and difficult to like. There was an artifice in the main storyline that was only broken by the brief little interviews that were spattered throughout the film. I quickly judged Dolan to be a snarky, self-indulgent, pretentious talent. I decided to watch "I Killed My Mother" on a whim because I was in the mood for something pretty and wanted to give Dolan another shot. Those little glimpses of something more in "Heartbeats" dominated this film. This film is raw and wonderful. It incorporates some of the more elaborate, surreal aesthetics present in "Heartbeats" but regardless of whether or not the characters are likeable they are real. Sometimes painfully so, which makes the bits of surrealism all the more welcome. The acting is fantastic and the autobiographical nature is very noticeable. These qualities complement one another and make for a beautiful film. For some reason though I was wondering towards the end how the French language affected the film and how different it would feel in English. I'm starting to wonder how language can be used to influence mood. Now that I have seen more of Dolan I may revisit Heartbeats with a new perspective.
December 12, 2013
What load of rubbish. If Dolan can direct a decent flick, her certainly cant act for s---. Especially not play himself. Anne Dorval was great, but it just seems to be a long succession of cinematic self-gratification on Dolan's part. (insert lip music here).
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