I Killed My Mother
|J'ai tué ma mère|
|Directed by||Xavier Dolan|
|Produced by||Xavier Dolan
|Written by||Xavier Dolan|
|Music by||Nicholas Savard-L'Herbier|
|Cinematography||Stéphanie Weber Biron
|Editing by||Hélène Girard|
|Distributed by||Rézo Films (France)
K Films Amerique (Canada)
Kino Lorber (US)
|Running time||96 minutes|
|Box office||CA$32,803 |
I Killed My Mother (French: J'ai tué ma mère) is a 2009 Quebec biographical drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan. It is an exposé on the complexity of the mother and son bond. The film attracted international press attention when it won three awards from the Director's Fortnight program at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. After being shown, the film received an eight-minute standing ovation.
The film begins with Hubert Minel giving a black-and-white monologue explaining how he loves his mother but can’t stand being her son; he also reveals that when he was younger things were better between them.
Hubert is a 16-year-old Québécois living in suburban Montreal with his single mother, Chantale, who divorced Hubert's father, Richard, when he was younger. Hubert barely sees his father and this adds to the animosity between mother and son. Driving him to school one morning an argument starts about Chantale applying makeup whilst driving, the argument ends when Chantale stops the car and tells him to walk to school. At school Hubert claims to his teacher, Ms Cloutier that his mother is dead. After the teacher finds out that it is a lie, she expresses this lie as "you killed your mother". This inspires Hubert to write an essay for school titled "I killed my mother".
Later in the film, Hubert's friend Antonin is revealed to be his boyfriend, but Hubert has not told his mother and she finds out from Antonin's mother, who thought she knew. Chantale, to some extent, accepts his homosexuality; however she appears hurt that her son didn't tell her. Hubert wants to live in his own apartment, and is happy that his mother says it is a good idea, but the next day she has changed her mind and does not allow it, she thinks he is too young. Their relationship continues to deteriorate and Hubert goes to live with his boyfriend. His father Richard invites him over however once there Richard and Chantale tell Hubert they've decided to send him to a boarding school in Coaticook. Hubert is deeply angered that his father makes the decision being as Hubert only sees his father at Christmas and Easter.
At the Catholic boarding school Hubert meets Eric, with whom he has an affair. Eric invites Hubert to go to a nightclub with the other students, where they kiss and Hubert takes speed. He takes the Metro home, wakes his mother, and has an emotional conversation with her. The next morning, she takes Hubert to Antonin's mother's workplace to help drip the walls in paint. He and Antonin finish, and he lays down. Antonin proceeds to lay on top of him and kiss him, and they end up having sex. Hubert, later at home, trashes his mother's bedroom, but he calms down and cleans it up. In the morning, she sends Hubert back to the boarding school.
Back at school, Hubert is beaten by two fellow students. Hubert runs away with the help of Antonin who has borrowed his mother's car. On the journey Antonin tells Hubert that he is selfish and only cares about himself. The school's principal calls Chantale to inform her of the developments as well revealing the note Hubert left; saying he will be "In his kingdom". The principal also begins to lecture Chantale which causes her to have an angry outburst at him, saying how he thinks he's better than her and how he has no right to judge a single mother. Chantale knows exactly where Hubert's "kingdom" is; the house he lived as a child with both his parents and indeed Hubert and Antonin are there. Chantale sits next to Hubert overlooking the beach. The film ends with a home movie clip of Hubert as a child playing with his mother.
- Xavier Dolan as Hubert Minel
- Anne Dorval as Chantale Lemming, Hubert's mother
- Suzanne Clément as Julie Cloutier, Hubert's teacher
- François Arnaud as Antonin Rimbaud, Hubert's boyfriend
- Niels Schneider as Éric, a boy at the boarding school
- Patricia Tulasne as Hélène Rimbaud, Antonin's mother
- Pierre Chagnon as Richard Minel, Hubert's father
- Monique Spaziani as Denise, Chantale's friend
- Benoît Gouin as Principal Nadeau, the boarding school principal
The film was at first financed by Dolan, but when need for more money arose, he asked both Téléfilm and the SODEC for subsidies. Both turned him down for different reasons. SODEC, who had loved the project but refused to finance it because it was submitted to a too commercial department, encouraged Dolan to submit it again in more appropriate "indie" department, which he did. In December 2008, SODEC gave him a $400,000 subsidy. In all, the film cost around C$800,000. Dolan said that the system to acquire funding is "[...] an obsolete financing mechanism that holds the creative assets of Quebec hostage."
The film received generally positive reviews from critics; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 73% of professional critics gave the film a positive review. Peter Howell from the Toronto Star said that "What makes it extraordinary is its depth of feeling, which Dolan's age makes all the more impressive: he was just 19 when he made this." Peter Brunette from the Hollywood Reporter called it "Uneven but funny and audacious adolescent comedy from a talented beginner."
Awards and accolades
Dolan won three awards at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival:
- C.I.C.A.E. Award
- Prix Regards Jeune
- SACD Prize (Directors' Fortnight)
And other awards from different festivals on the international circuit:
- Zagreb Film Festival Award (2009)
- International Film Festival Rotterdam Moviesquad Award (2009)
- Golden Puffin, Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF)
- Grand Prix, 2MORROW (Moscow)
- Jury Prize for Best Canadian Film, Vancouver International Film Festival
- Best Canadian Actor (Xavier Dolan), Best Canadian Supporting Actor (François Arnaud), Best Canadian Director (Xavier Dolan), Best Canadian Film, Vancouver Film Critics Circle
On 22 September 2009, Telefilm announced the film had been selected as Canada's submission for Best Foreign Language film at the 82nd Academy Awards. The film also won the Claude Jutra Award for best feature film by a first-time director at the 30th Genie Awards.
- "J'AI TUE MA MERE - I KILLED MY MOTHER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Playback - RBC HotSheet
- "Québécois filmmaker electrifies Cannes". The Globe and Mail, 25 May 2009.
- "Quebec film scores hat trick at Cannes". Montreal Gazette. 2009-05-23. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- Stone, Jay (2009-05-20). "Quebec film a hit at Cannes". Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- Bélanger, Cédric (2009-05-22). "Xavier Dolan gagne trois prix a Cannes". Canoe (in French). Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- "Festival de Cannes : Acceuil remarquable pour Dolan". Radio-Canada (in French). 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- RSS Hysteria: Xavier Dolan & his mother at TIFF
- Provencher, Normand (2009-05-15). "Xavier Dolan". Le Soleil (in French). Retrieved 2009-05-27.
- I Killed My Mother (J'ai tue ma mere) - Rotten Tomatoes
- I Killed My Mother: Brawl in the family
- "Xavier Dolan's killer debut is Canada's Oscar pick". cbc.ca, 22 September 2009.