I Killed My Mother ★★★★

Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

Currently earning yet more rave reviews on the festival circuit with his fourth feature Tom at the Farm, Xavier Dolan has carved himself quite the cinematic career at just the age of 24. He was, astonishingly, only 19 when he shot I Killed My Mother, his passionate and powerful debut tale of a gay teen and his single mother, and the explosive tensions between the two. Candid black and white confessionals knowingly play with the title’s inherent expectations between alternating scenes of aggression and adoration. Anne Dorval gives an astounding performance as this put-upon matriarch, at once entirely sympathetic and yet understandably annoying to the quick-to-anger protagonist. It’s much more a portrait of youthful insolence than an indulgence therein, as its detractors claimed; Dolan, here less given to stylistic excess than in his later work, creates a relationship as hilarious in its arguments as it is heartbreaking, as twisted as it is—crucially—so true to life.