When I reviewed the theatrical release of Xavier Dolan’s ‘Mommy’, I said I would be very surprised if I saw a better film in 2015. Well, it’s now August and while a few have come close, ‘Mommy’ is still sitting in my number one spot. I’m not surprised though - when a film is as extraordinary as this, you’re not likely to forget it in a hurry. And now, with its release on DVD, more people have an opportunity to experience and embrace Dolan’s masterpiece.
Shot in a window-boxed square aspect ratio and featuring three extraordinary performances, ‘Mommy’ combines Dolan’s incredible visual sense and uncompromising honesty into a breathtaking portrait of three lonely and disconnected souls crashing against one another with elemental force. Defiantly independent Diane (Anne Dorval), her troubled and uncontrollable teenage son Steve (Antione-Olivier Pilon) and their timid, stuttering neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément) find solace in one another, each as screwed up as the next and desperate to connect with anyone that will listen to them. What should be a brooding social drama becomes an ecstatic symphony in Dolan’s hands, catapulted forward with boundless energy and invention. There are moments of genuine cinematic ecstasy, whether they be from the details in the performances picked up by the intense close-ups or Dolan’s ability to wield the cinematic form like a weapon. ’Mommy’ feels like the culmination of Dolan’s talents, the perfect demonstration of his understanding of visual storytelling, his unforgiving style and his ability to craft remarkable characters with his actors. All three of the central cast are absolutely perfect, with Anne Dorval delivering a jaw-dropping performance as Diane.
Where ‘Mommy’ transcends into truly great cinema is that its incredible artistry is almost invisible thanks to how incredible moving, hilarious and affecting the film itself is. This is a trio you genuinely care for, and as their relationship dives towards its devastating climax, you ride every twist and turn with them. And what a ride it is! ‘Mommy’ literally takes my breath away, gasping at its audacity, weeping at its tragedy and cheering for its joyous celebration of life and its possibilities. This is cinema at its most ecstatic and its most personal, a reminder of just what the medium is capable of. Dolan can no longer be called an emerging filmmaker - with ‘Mommy’ he has made his masterpiece and established himself as one of the great filmmakers working today. So check with me again in December, but I can pretty much guarantee this will still be my pick for the best film of 2015.
Where ‘Mommy’ transcends into truly great cinema is that its incredible artistry is almost invisible thanks to how incredible moving, hilarious and affecting the film itself is.
PICTURE & SOUND
Oh what I would have given to see ‘Mommy’ released on Blu-ray in Australia! That said, Madman have given it a top-notch DVD release - in fact, the only way the 16:9 standard definition transfer could be improve on would be an upgrade to high definition. The striking detail and colours of the photography look terrific, and the loss of clarity isn’t distracting in the slightest. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track also does a robust job, the dialogue and the superb soundtrack complementing one another without overpowering each other. It was unlikely we were going to get it on Blu-ray because of its limited release but its presentation on DVD is still the best the format can offer.
A few short features are included on the disc, beginning with an interview with Dolan at TIFF (24:39) with Indiewire Senior Editor Peter Knegt (who could easily be Dolan’s twin). Covering both ‘Mommy’ and the film ‘Elephant Song’ which Dolan performed in, the interview offers a lot of insight into Dolan’s ideologies and techniques as a filmmaker. There’s also a clip of Dolan’s acceptance speech from the Cannes 2014 Awards Ceremony, where the film won the Jury Prize (7:38). It’s a beautiful speech, deeply heartfelt and emotional. Finally, there’s the terrific theatrical trailer (2:24).
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