I Killed My Mother Retro Talk; Grade: A-
Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! This week we’ll be discussing an underrated gem many of you may not have heard of. From 2009, Xavier Dolan’s debut feature film I Killed My Mother. Xavier Dolan self funded the film from his own money from child acting in the past. He wrote the script at sixteen years old, shot the film at twenty years old. I Killed My Mother went on to be featured at Cannes Film Festival and went on to win a few awards.... A Twenty Year Old’s film was featured at Cannes, that’s insane.
I Killed My Mother tells a story about a single mother (Anne Dorval) and a sixteen year old son Hubert (Xavier Dolan). Hubert and his mother’s relationship is extremely difficult. Always at odds with each other, as well as many heated arguments unfold non stop. With the resources Hubert’s mother has and lack of father figure around, his mother gives Hubert a reasonably good enough life. But Hubert has come to an age where it’s extremely difficult to please, as his mother isn’t entirely sure how to handle Hubert anymore. Witness a mother/son relationship so dysfunctional, yet in ways you yourself can relate to some of it’s vile nature.
I Killed My Mother is a visually cool looking film, followed by a unique sound. I enjoyed the black and white shots, where Hubert was talking into the camera about his relationship with his mother, thought those were pretty cool. I guess one small issue regarding the Score was the song played in a scene, where Hubert paints his boyfriend’s mother’s office, then a tantrum follows. I found the song completely off setting with the tone of that scene, other than that I thought the music was cool. The cast all in all was pretty damn good, for a twenty year old to get each cast member on their A-Game, was extremely impressive.
Xavier Dolan playing Hubert was fantastic, for a young teenage boy going through the frustrations and hormones was extremely accurate. The character Hubert itself t’was extremely difficult to get behind, due to how bad he treats his mother. But at the same time... It does give flash backs of when you yourself have had unnecessary tantrums with your mother. Plus Hubert was a closeted homosexual, so that could’ve also played a part in him being extremely difficult with his mother. I felt Hubert was kind of ashamed of himself, as he felt his mother would react poorly if she were to find out his true identity. So in a way Hubert was fighting within himself, as he takes it out on his poor mother, who honestly would do anything to satisfy this kid. Though it’s hard to get behind the character himself, you still understand his moral reasoning being this way, as well as teenagers more than likely give parents a hard time, as they’re still continuing to grow.
Anne Dorval playing Hubert’s mother was also great as well. I was honestly behind this character from the beginning, the amount of sacrifice, determination, and love this woman gives to this boy leaves a special place in my heart. There’s honestly one moment, where I did felt being on Hubert’s side, regarding the video rental scene. But other than that: This woman was a great mother. The concluding scene where the mother is on the phone with the principal of the boarding school really killed me. Apart of the scene being emotionally riveting comes from the heavy hitting dialogue, but more credit is towards Anne Dorval’s acting in this scene alone. I enjoyed the supporting cast as well, not as great as Dorval and Dolan, but did a nice job in their performances as well.
Couple other flaws include one particular art house scene, involving Hubert and a woman in a wedding gown. I think you can make a case this scene represented Hubert’s thoughts, of his mother should’ve never married his dad. Two reasons: One being he gave up on parenting early on, the other maybe Hubert not wanting to be born at all. The flaw that comes with that scene is shown randomly, as there isn’t enough context behind the scene shown. Maybe if Hubert was having a deep conversation with someone or dealing with a therapist, then I can see purpose behind showing that scene. Also I didn’t quite understand why Hubert was recording himself?! Maybe the video camera was his form of therapy, but then again he could just talk to his boyfriend about his problems. Plus it’s never been discussed that Hubert has a desire for film making, Hubert’s moral interest was actually painting.
Xavier Dolan’s debut film I Killed My Mother is an extremely special film, that is almost nearly flawless. The story itself is extremely special, a fantastic screenplay that is just unimaginable to be written by a sixteen year old. Just the relatability, the strong dialogue sequences, and the themes portrayed in this film is honestly extremely mature coming from someone this age. This film is going to pull many heart strings on everyone, whomever has had a mother present in their lives... By the end of the film you’re more than likely going to apologize to her. Though we may not have treated our mothers, the way Huberts treats his... However, there is one point in time where we have given our mother a difficult time for an unnecessary reason. It just really hits on the nose, as at times myself became heavily emotional while watching this film. The film is simply about a son and mother’s relationship being ripped apart, as they try to make way of being reborn again, as it takes it’s time and it DELIVERS! I feel there shouldn’t be more to say, as I would like to see you experience this incredible film for the first time, without knowing much of it.
Overall, I Killed my Mother is a fantastic work of art. I highly recommend checking this film out, can be found on Kanopy, Hoopla, or Amazon Prime. I have many of Xavier Dolan’s films checked out on my Netflix DVD account, I look forward to explore this gifted film makers work! -Mitch Smietana