“MOMMY” (Foreign Film Review & Trailer)



Brought to the screen in a very compelling and aggressive way, the film Mommy shows the graphic nature of one mother’s dealing with ADHD and now faces a choice no parent should have to make. The film may be on the long side, but could not have been as heartfelt and explicit had it been chopped up in editing. Mommy is a power film that deals with this tough subject matter under excellent direction and acting. As a note, with the USA going through the trials and tribulations of the Affordable Care Act, this timely film shows one of the negative aspects of Canada’s Health System.

Diane (Anne Dorval) has been living alone for the past three years since her husband died. She has also lost her only son James (Antoine Olivier Pilon) to the juvenile detention system for the past 5 years due to his uncontrollable ADHD and the damage he caused schoolmates. Things are about to come crashing down when she’s called to pick up her boy who has turned adult at 15 or he’ll be a transferred to a prison. Faced with very little income and a bleak future she takes on James’ problem as well. She prays that bringing him to her home she can help him live a normal life.

Diane (Anne Dorval) brings her son James (Antoine Olivier Pilon) home from Juvinile Detention

Diane (Anne Dorval) brings her son James (Antoine Olivier Pilon) home from Juvinile Detention

The film takes some very nervous twists and shows Diane under a lot of pressure trying to keep her life in order while dealing with outburst, fighting and negative issues that are out of her element. In the midst of it all is a neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clément), a teacher that has lost her will to go on in her chosen profession. When the two psychological disorders collide, a glimmer of hope starts to appear for both.

Writer and director Xavier Dolan handles his cast well depicting the burdensome illness that causes the fearsome acting out by James and Diane’s already troubled life spiraling down. Faced with a decision she doesn’t want to make, Dolan puts Anne Dorval in overdrive showing the fight to keep her son in the face of obvious disaster from the school system and the harsh decision to commit her son to a mental institution.

Anne Dorval as Diane in MOMMY

Anne Dorval as Diane in MOMMY

The star of this film is Anne Dorval who does a beyond excellent job of making Diane a harrowed woman who tries to fight the system and keep her boy. She makes Diane a fighter and won’t back down under any circumstances. During the course of the film she starts to wear down however, trying to avoid the inevitable. She finally brings her character out of a slump with the progress made by Kyla, but will it be enough?

Not only does Antoine Olivier Pilon show he can act, he takes his performance of James to the next level making the actor a hot choice for future roles. His James becomes very scary, daunting and dangerous. But he turns into a lamb when Kayla starts to give him the attention of a teacher who understands him. The two have a surprising chemistry that makes the characters relationship questionable at times, but Suzanne Clément never lets her Kayla get beyond caring in a humane way.

Dolan purposefully filmed Mommy in the square 1.33:1 aspect ratio forcing his audience to focus in on the damage being caused by ADHD thorough the mind of James’s world. Even though Dolan takes a chance that people may think the film may be just an old release, it’s a good ploy in this particular film. I hope people get the meaning behind it as it works for me. During one scene however, Dolan goes to a wide shot when James looks like he’s being freed from his ADHD captivity.

Mommy has been rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, sexual references and some violence. The movie is performed in French Canadian with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very heartfelt and heartbreaking film that tugs a little too tight on the heartstrings. (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Anne Dorval, Antoine Olivier Pilon, and Suzanne Clément
Written and Directed by: Xavier Dolan
Genre: Drama, Foreign, French Canadian
Language: French with English Subtitles
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual references and some violence
Running Time: 2 hrs 19 min
Release Date: February 13, 2015
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

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