With his fifth film, twenty-five year old director Xavier Dolan finally played in Competition at Cannes with “Mommy,” and he made the most of the opportunity. Yesterday, raves started coming in from all corners for the movie, with our own Jessica Kiang declaring the picture to be “vibrant, intoxicating, illuminating” and now you can get a taste with the first clip from the flim.
Starring Anne Dorval (“I Killed My Mother,” “Heartbeats,” “Laurence Anyways“), Suzanne Clément (“I Killed My Mother,” “Laurence Anyways”) and Antoine-Olivier Pilon, the story follows a widowed, single mother, raising her unstable teenage son, who finds assistance and stability from a next door neighbor. But that’s barely the half of it, as the film finds Dolan once again flexing some serious filmmaking muscles, staring with the soundtrack. Featuring Oasis, Dido, Andrea Boccelli, Eiffel 65 and more, Dolan finds a way to make radio friendly fodder take on deeper meaning, such as in this first clip from the film powered by Counting Crows‘ “Colorblind.” But that’s not all.
Just like “Tom At The Farm,” Dolan is having fun with aspect ratios, this time shooting “Mommy” in the boxy 1:1 ratio. Here’s what he said to say about that decision from the press notes for the film:
After having shot a music video in 1:1 last year, it dawned on me that this ratio translated in a somewhat unique emotion and sincerity.
The perfect square in which it consists framed faces with such simplicity, and seemed like the ideal structure for “portrait” shots. No distraction, no affectations are possible in such constricted space. The character is our main subject, inescapably at the center of our attention. Our eyes cannot miss him, her. 1:1 is, besides, the ratio of album covers in the CD industry, and of all of these jackets that have imprinted our imaginaries over time. The Die & Steve Mix 4ever being a leitmotif for us, the use of 1:1 found an additional echo.
It is also, to be frank, my DOP André Turpin’s favorite ratio which he had, apparently, dreamed of using his entire life without ever daring to do so (he’s also a director, and directed the extremely enjoyable Zigrail, Middle-East road trip shot in black and white and featuring some brutal early John Zorn!). After having now spent a year with him busting my balls at about just every shot, regretting our infamous ratio, I’ve learned two things: André loves cinemascope and I, for one, have absolutely no regrets in this.
A contender for the Palme d’Or, there’s no U.S. distributor for “Mommy” just yet (and none for “Tom At The Farm” for that matter), but hopefully that’ll change soon. Until then, both versions of the clip below: one powered by Counting Crows and a longer version of the same scene with more context via Radio Ici Canada.