I Killed My Mother


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

I Killed My Mother
"There is nothing to temper all the teenage angst bullshit."

Xavier Dolan writes, produces, directs and stars in I Killed My Mother, a semi-autobiographical account of his life as a 16 year old. He wrote the script at the age of 16 and had made the film by the age of 20, which is no mean feat. And herein lies the problem with the film - there is nothing to temper all the teenage angst bullshit. The film is annoyingly atelene.

Set in Quebec, I Killed My Mother revolves around Hubert Mine (Dolan) and his relationship with his mother Chantale (Anne Dorval). He hates his mother because she is a slightly messy eater, has bad fashion sense and poor taste in TV, and sometimes she ignores him. She, like all the other characters in the film, has the overblown reactions you'd expect from a teenager or from somebody who was written by one. Hubert also loves her and has difficulty reconciling these emotions. They argue and posture. He seems to live a charmed life: affluent upper middle class, good school, good relationship with his boyfriend etc., and his relationship with his mother is not at all bad.

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The film flits about a bit between black and white soliloquies, scenes in over saturated colour and the occasional bit of dodgy semi Freudian imagery. The scenes are well shot and naturally scripted but their repetitiousness gets a little annoying. There is also a sort of hyper Frenchness about them. It's something about the set dressing and wardrobe. It has that faint whiff of cultural desperation you get in an Irish pub on the east coast of the US or from a tourist visiting their homeland. Some scenes are particularly well observed, showing life through the lens of adolescence. Throughout the film the acting is generally of a high standard. Dorval and Franois Arnaud, as Hubert's boyfriend Antonin, both stand out.

The fact that Hubert and Antonin are in a gay relationship has no real bearing on story line. It could have been used to explain the problems with the maternal relationship. Dolan doesn't do this; it is played like a straight relationship would be. It is a good to see that at least some parts of society have grown up about such things.

I Killed My Mother is not without its good points but it is sometimes intensely irritating.

Reviewed on: 19 Feb 2010
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A semi- autobiographical tale in which a young man explores all the things he hates about his mother.
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Director: Xavier Dolan

Writer: Xavier Dolan

Starring: Anne Dorval, Xavier Dolan, Suzanne Clement

Year: 2009

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada

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