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One would imagine that a film entitled I KILLED MY MOTHER would be a wild ride of incestuous violence, but Montreal-based Xavier Dolan’s semi-autobiographical debut feature is more of a testament to the loving bonds between mother  and son, no matter how ferocious and unpleasant. The film, which marks the emergence of an enfant terrible auteur in the 20-year-old former child star Dolan, will be the closing night presentation of this year’s New Directors New Films on Sunday evening.


A sensation at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival,  the film centers on Hubert (played by Dolan), a gay teenager who is desperate to escape the clutches of his mother Chantal (played by a scenery-chewing Anne Dorval). The early segments of the film are almost like a duel between opponents who are equally matched and often equally flawed. Confining the leads in claustrophobic two-shots, the early scenes crackle with all the requisite tension as mother and son carp at each other in exchanges that demonstrate Dolan’s ear for the universal language of petty grievance and emotional blackmail.  

Mixed into this kitchen sink drama are more stylized sequences, like the black-and-white interludes that present Hubert as a nouveau Rimbaud or the painting session between Hubert and boyfriend Antonin that turns carnal. Despite all the rancor and accusations, Hubert and Chantal must finally admit to themselves that these two monsters need each other as much as they deserve each other. Much like Anthony Perkins in PSYCHO, the young Hubert discovers it is not easy to escape from the shadow of a demanding Mommy… fact, he becomes more like Mommy than he is willing to admit.


The film received several awards at its debut in the Directors Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival and has been an international hit on the film festival circuit. In its native Canada, it has swept many film critics prizes as well as the Claude Jutra Award for its director at the Genie Awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Oscars). The film will be released in the US via Regent Releasing later this year.


For more information on the final weekend of films at New Directors New Films, visit:


 Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor 


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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