J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother)

In a triple-threat feat, Dolan writes, directs and stars in J’ai tué ma mère, the semi-autobiographical tale of a young gay man coming of age while struggling with his tortured relationship with his mother.

Dolan plays Hubert, a cool and composed teenager who sports a Tears for Fears throwback hairdo. He bickers constantly with mom (Anne Dorval) about anything and everything, from the trivial to the profound. He’s also repulsed by her style – the plastic on the furniture, her repeated trips to the tanning salon. Not only is she disagreeable and unsupportive, but she’s also a kitsch monster. Their arguments are alternately hilarious and horrifying, reflecting the profound pain both mother and son are suffering through. When his teacher asks the class to write about what their mother does, Hubert can’t imagine even acknowledging he has one – so he writes that his mother is dead, managing to bury her in at least one part of his imagination.

Their fights escalate until mom hatches a toxic plan: Hubert will be shipped off to boarding school. He is aghast but has little choice, as mom has managed to convince her ex-husband that a change of scenery is in the lad’s best interests. Being banished to a mother-free zone might have seemed a good option for Hubert, but the move simply leads to an ultimate standoff between them. Dolan and Dorval navigate their way through the harried, increasingly vicious tête-à-têtes with delicacy, evoking sympathy for both characters. [Synopsis courtesy of the TIFF]