I Killed My Mother

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I Killed My Mother
Directed byXavier Dolan
Produced byXavier Dolan
Carole Mondello
Daniel Morin
Written byXavier Dolan
StarringXavier Dolan
Anne Dorval
Suzanne Clément
François Arnaud
Music byNicholas Savard-L'Herbier
CinematographyStéphanie Weber Biron
Nicolas Canniccioni
Edited byHélène Girard
Distributed byRézo Films (France)
K Films Amerique (Canada)
Kino Lorber (US)
Release date
  • 18 May 2009 (2009-05-18) (Cannes)
  • 5 June 2009 (2009-06-05) (Canada)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
BudgetCA$450,000 (estimated)
Box officeCA$32,803 [2]

I Killed My Mother (French: J'ai tué ma mère) is a 2009 Canadian drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan. The film attracted international press attention when it won three awards from the Director's Fortnight program at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[3][4] After being shown, the film received a standing ovation.[5] It was shown in 12 cinemas in Quebec and 60 in France.[6][7][8]


The film begins with Hubert Minel giving a black-and-white monologue explaining how he loves his mother but cannot 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 Hubert was much younger. Hubert barely sees his father, and this adds to the animosity between mother and son. One morning, as his mother drives him to school, Hubert starts an argument with her about her applying makeup while 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 assumed that Chantale already knew. Chantale, to some extent, accepts her son's homosexuality; however, she appears hurt that he did not 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, claiming that she thinks he is too young.

Their relationship continues to deteriorate, and Hubert goes to live with his teacher, pretending to be staying with his boyfriend. Hubert's father invites him over for a visit; 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, since 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. The two fight and, 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, but adds that he loves him. The school's principal calls Chantale to inform her of the developments, 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 in as a child with both his parents.

Indeed, she finds Hubert and Antonin 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


Anne Dorval, François Arnaud, and Xavier Dolan on stage for a Q&A at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Xavier Dolan wrote the script when he was 16 years old.[7] He said in an interview with Canadian newspaper Le Soleil that the film was partly autobiographical.[9]

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.[9] 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 $800,000 CAD.[7] Dolan said that the system to acquire funding is "[...] an obsolete financing mechanism that holds the creative assets of Quebec hostage."[9]


Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally positive reviews from critics; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 83%, with an average rating of 7.03/10 based on 23 reviews.[10] 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."[11]

Peter Brunette from The Hollywood Reporter called it "Uneven but funny and audacious adolescent comedy from a talented beginner."[12]


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.[13] Despite this, it received no nominations at the 30th Genie Awards and received only the Claude Jutra Award for best directorial debut. Kevin Tierney, vice-chairman of cinema for the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, criticized the overlook, comparing it to "being sent to the kiddie table".[14]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Cannes Film Festival 13–24 May 2009 C.I.C.A.E. Award Xavier Dolan Won [13]
Prix Regards Jeune Won
SACD Prize (Directors' Fortnight) Won
César Awards 27 February 2010 Best Foreign Film Nominated [15]
Genie Awards 12 April 2010 Claude Jutra Award Won [14]
Jutra Awards March 2010 Best Film Xavier Dolan, Carole Mondello and Daniel Morin Won [16][17]
Best Director Xavier Dolan Nominated
Best Screenplay Won
Best Actor Nominated
Best Actress Anne Dorval Won
Most Successful Film outside Quebec Xavier Dolan, Carole Mondello and Daniel Morin Won
Lumières Awards 15 January 2010 Best French-Language Film Xavier Dolan Won [18]
Palm Springs International Film Festival January 2010 Women's Performing Award Anne Dorval Won [18]
Reykjavík International Film Festival September 2009 Golden Puffin Xavier Dolan Won [19]
Toronto Film Critics Association 16 December 2009 Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize Won [18]
Vancouver International Film Festival October 2009 Best Canadian Film Won [20]
Vancouver Film Critics Circle 11 January 2010 Best Canadian Film Won [21]
Best Director of a Canadian Film Won
Best Actor in a Canadian Film Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film François Arnaud Won [18]
Zagreb Film Festival October 2009 Best Feature Film Xavier Dolan Won [22]


  1. ^ "J'AI TUE MA MERE - I KILLED MY MOTHER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  2. ^ Playback - RBC HotSheet Archived 27 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Québécois filmmaker electrifies Cannes". The Globe and Mail, 25 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Quebec film scores hat trick at Cannes". Montreal Gazette. 23 May 2009. Archived from the original on 21 October 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
  5. ^ Stone, Jay (20 May 2009). "Quebec film a hit at Cannes". Retrieved 25 May 2009.
  6. ^ Bélanger, Cédric (22 May 2009). "Xavier Dolan gagne trois prix a Cannes". Canoe (in French). Retrieved 25 May 2009.
  7. ^ a b c "Festival de Cannes : Acceuil remarquable pour Dolan". Radio-Canada (in French). 20 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  8. ^ RSS Hysteria: Xavier Dolan & his mother at TIFF
  9. ^ a b c Provencher, Normand (15 May 2009). "Xavier Dolan". Le Soleil (in French). Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  10. ^ I Killed My Mother, retrieved 27 February 2017
  11. ^ I Killed My Mother: Brawl in the family
  12. ^ "I Killed My Mother -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Xavier Dolan's killer debut is Canada's Oscar pick". CBC News. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  14. ^ a b Howell, Peter (12 April 2010). "Polytechnique sweeps Genie Awards". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Film by Canada's Dolan gets six nominations in 'French Oscars'". Toronto Star. 25 January 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  16. ^ Bailey, Patricia (8 March 2010). "Can anyone fix the Jutras?". Playback. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  17. ^ Mathieu, Annie (29 March 2010). "'J'ai tue ma mere' wins top Jutra prize, 'Polytechnique' wins most". The Canadian Press.
  18. ^ a b c d "Anne Dorval est honorée à Palm Springs pour son rôle dans 'J'ai tué ma mère'". The Canadian Press. 18 January 2010.
  19. ^ "'J'ai tué ma mère' remporte un prix au Festival du film de Reykjavik". The Canadian Press. 25 September 2009.
  20. ^ "Xavier Dolan's debut feature tops Vancouver International Film Festival". The Canadian Press. 16 October 2009.
  21. ^ Terauds, John (14 January 2010). "Vancouver critics laud Up in the Air". The Canadian Press.
  22. ^ "Young Quebec director's movie awarded Best Feature Film at Zagreb Film Fest". The Canadian Press. 25 October 2009.

External links[edit]