Premiering last fall at the Venice Film Festival, “Tom at the Farm” marks Xavier Dolan’s first foray into genre filmmaking. The film takes a trip down the road into the secluded Quebec countryside where the grieving titular character (played by Dolan himself) must confront his recently deceased boyfriend’s mother Agathe (Lise Roy) and brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal), the latter whom will go to sadomasochistic lengths to keep Tom’s mouth shut and maintain the facade that his sibling was solely heterosexual. Tom’s visit develops into a case of Stockholm syndrome rampant with homoeroticism wherein he finds himself unable to leave the farm whose strands of wheat have seemed to become one with his golden locks.
Classically Québécois combined with the refinement of the American masters, “Tom” has been lauded by some critics as being a step forward in Dolan’s career. I personally fail to see where maturity might’ve lacked in his previous efforts, although sure, “Tom” doesn’t contain any slowmo or Swedish pop. Yet the playfulness is as present here as in the phantasms of his other three films, perhaps best exemplified in a moment that shows Tom and Francis snort coke together before doing the tango in a barn, a scene which brilliantly recalls Richard Gere and J.Lo doing much the same in 2004’s “Shall We Dance?” The picture’s success is much due to this repressed chemistry between the male leads: Cardinal plays the token hot schoolyard bully while Dolan is the pensive victim mad at and for him. As their violent relationship spirals out of control and the farmland descends into a nightmarescape, the thriller foregrounds the true underlying darkness, which as it reads in the backside synopsis of Bouchard’s play, that “gay men must often learn to lie before they learn how to love.”
Watch the new trailer below. The film is set to hit Canadian cinemas in March, and has yet to find a US distributor (but someone needs to change that, svp):