Xavier Dolan’s I Killed My Mother is a movie I’ve wanting to watch for a very long time. I have read very good comments and reviews for it around the Internet and I started to watch it with high expectations. It was unfortunately a big disappointment.
I Killed My Mother is about a French gay teen who is having some problems with his mother at home. They fight a lot. All the time. Meanwhile, this teen records videos about his mother and his radical feelings about her. We watch these videos as the movie proceeds. One day his mother decides that she can’t take it anymore and decides to send him to a very disciplined boarding school. He doesn’t it want it of course. They keep fighting and fighting until the movie ends and they have some kind of a reconciliation.
The problem I had with that movie is that I can’t connect with that teen (he is 16). His name is Hubert. Hubert seemed extremely spoiled that his behaviors completely ruined the movie for me. I’m 19 years old, one might say I’m still a teen. I think to understand a movie or a book we need to find a piece of ourselves with a character, with a situation in that book or film. I couldn’t connect with him. I think the psychological aspect of the character was not given properly, it was shallow; or the character was so different from me that I couldn’t find any aspect of him that we can connect. I refuse to believe the latter because even though I don’t live in France (I live in a place culturally very different), and I’m not a person who is a rebel neither in school nor at home like he is. But the emotions are similar, we are both human.
His reasonings for his problems with his mother weren’t properly conveyed to the audience that it made me angry. He was shouting at her whenever he had a problem and he was shouting at the top of his lungs. Most of the movie is spent showing him screaming. It’s really annoying. He also uses discriminatory language against people living in hoods or slums. He is angry with his mother that she doesn’t let him live on his own at 16 years old. I’m not a mother but one might try to understand the reasoning behind this: you are not 18 years old and your mother is anxious for you. This being said, he is not %100 guilty. Her mother is problematic too. At the beginning of the movie, he implies that she left him at home alone when he was 4. That sounds kinda cruel. Plus she complains about having to drop him off to school. Who was going to do that anyway? Isn’t it your job to do that? You brought him into this world, so you are going to do it. When making babies, it seems like people don’t think about the teenage years. She is a frustrating character as well, but not as much as her son. The characters are in a vicious cycle. Hubert does something, his mother gets worse in her behavior. Her mother’s behavior then makes Hubert go crazy. This is not fun to watch, at all. But then I guess life is art in every kind of way.
I would also like to say something about the angle of the camera. Most of the time we see people having interactions from 90 degree angle. We see people directly but also not so very directly. There is a barrier between the audience and the movie, in a way. There are rarely any close-ups, we can’t see their eyes, their mimics clearly sometimes. The close-ups are present when we see videos of Hubert talking or when he is dreaming about his mom.
The acting is very good, especially Xavier Dolan and Anne Dorval, who plays his mother. But Hubert’s behavior is bad enough to spoil the film for me 🙁