What a talent we have in 24-year-old Xavier Dolan, star, writer, director, producer here, penning this rather intelligent screenplay at just 16. The pretentious Cannes crowd adored him, Xavier receiving an eight-minute standing ovation, winning the Palme D’Or .
Part autobiographical its a tale of a gay schoolboy who loves him mum but can’t stand being her son, and one or two uncomfortable home truths there for many moody teenagers. Freud said that we all have a repressed need to kill our parents in the end to become true independent adults, normal behavior in the animal kingdom, of course. We had Gerbils as kids and still traumatized to this day seeing mummy Gerbil bite the heads off her new born.
17-year-old Hubert (Dolan) is pain in the ass, constantly criticizing his single mom (Anne Dorval) and not much to say of praise for anyone else in his life in urban middle-class Quebec, only secret boyfriend Antonin (François Arnaud) and his vivacious mom Hélène (Patricia Tulasne) his kind of people.
Mom seems a nice lady but not as smart as her highly intelligent son. Hubert’s brain needs to be nourished, pretty school teacher Julie (Suzanne Clément) taking up the challenge, impressed with his essay called ‘I killed my Mother’, and good extracurricular company.
His absent dad (Pierre Chagnon) is the direction Hubert needs in life. But papa doesn’t put up with nonsense and sends him to boarding school. Antonin thinks he will be happy there as private schools are ‘full of queers’. But they are also full of bullies, Hubert beaten up on his first week there. Maybe this place will make him realizes how much he misses his mom.
Son’s relationships with moms are often hostile, finding it hard to love someone always emasculating us telling us what to do, be it for our own good. Moms will always be jealous of the lovers that take away their sons. The struggle with the paradox of loving a mother without actually liking her feels remarkably honest to me. Problem is Dolan's hunger to prove his talent and hotpot of styles means the film quickly becomes showing off. But hey, he’s charismatic and this classy piece of art house cinema, pretty as it is intelligent. With his arrogant floppy fringe and good looks and thought out script to deliver, never has a film been so heartfelt and real. Gawd knows what his real mom made of it.
It looks great with an emotional soundtrack and plenty of center framing, Dolan as vain and conceited as his film. The bickering throughout does get a little testing as it seems absurdly over the top and you just want mom to smack him one. It does get a little self indulgent at times but you are witnessing a great young talent and so get to enjoy a striking and funny movie. I suspect if you are gay then this film will have even more impact on you.
Whether you like it or not... Cinema will always have the Oscars... and Cannes (you may even include Bollywood!). Ceremonies, have to be ceremonial, so parties, outfits, drinks and chicks, will alway be around; but the awards will too. I honestly and firmly rate Cannes highly, because I always discover movies, which I would have otherwise, probably never heard of! e.g. Kolya (1996 winner, from Czechoslovakia), Todo sobre mi madre (Pedro Almodovar), Run Lola Run etc. I love the Oscars, but increasingly find them more and more antiquated as the years pass by... whereas Cannes still maintains an independent, youthful, tingly features, which even the Sundance film festival is losing. Cannes and the Empire Awards (possibly Mtv and Blockbuster too) are rated the highest by me. Play on...
I think one problem with the Cannes awards are that they are foreign and indeed seem to be more disposed towards foreign films being judged (mostly being other European countries) if you look at the list of films being judged. Now nothing wrong with this atall but really this must cut down on the number of peoples interest in the festival itself. Or rather, interest in any of the bulk of the films. Now this would explain all the interest in who is going to what party and who is seen rather than the actual films With the Oscars the actual ceremony is still seen (by the media coverage in any case) as the important thing with who is wearing what coming second. But at Cannes it is totally the other way round. It seems to be all about the parties as well as the release of films, more recently even films have been publicised that have nothing to do with the festival! If you saw the C4 special on Honest showing the members of All Saints you will have seen what I mean. It's all about the parties and being seen and answering mass numbers of stupid questions. In the actual press coverage of Cannes the films don't seem to be mentioned. Who won Cannes this year? I don't know! But I do know that Honest was loved by the Americans but hated by the British. Now what does that say about the importance of Cannes?