Mommy (2014 film)
|Directed by||Xavier Dolan|
|Written by||Xavier Dolan|
|Edited by||Xavier Dolan|
|Distributed by||Les Films Séville|
|Box office||$13.1 million|
Mommy is a 2014 Canadian drama film directed by Xavier Dolan and starring Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clément. The story concerns a mother with a sometimes-violent teenage son, struggling to control his behaviour in a hypothetical future in which parents have the legal option to commit troubled youth to public hospitals. The story continues Dolan's themes in mother-son relationships in his films, and is shot in an unconventional aspect ratio.
The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. It became a financial and critical success. Mommy went on to win numerous other awards, among them nine Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture.
In a fictional outcome for the Canadian federal election, 2015, a political party comes to power and establishes a law called S-14, allowing parents of troubled children and limited finances to place their children in hospitals, without regard for fundamental justice. After the law is passed, Diane "Die" Després, a widowed mother and 46-year-old journalist, picks up her son Steve, who has ADHD with violent tendencies, from an institution. Steve has started a fire at the institution, in which another youth was injured. Die brings Steve home, and struggles to care for him under financial distress. He gives her jewelry reading "Mommy," which she suspects he has stolen. Enraged by the accusation, Steve begins choking her, and she defends herself by hitting him with a glass frame. Kyla, a neighbour and teacher on sabbatical, shows up to tend to their wounds.
Although the three begin to bond, Die is served papers indicating she and Steve are being sued for the injuries caused by his fire. Die finds a lawyer willing to help them, but Steve drives him away due to what he perceives as the lawyer's sexual interest in Die. Overwhelmed, Die attempts to commit Steve to a hospital. She regrets the decision when she sees the officials use violence and tasers to subdue Steve, but there is nothing she can legally do. Kyla moves to Toronto while Die attempts to regain custody of her son. Immediately after being unstrapped by hospital officials, Steve flees.
- Anne Dorval as Diane "Die" Després
- Antoine-Olivier Pilon as Steve Després
- Suzanne Clément as Kyla
- Alexandre Goyette as Patrick
- Patrick Huard as Paul Béliveau
Director Xavier Dolan wrote the screenplay, though he said at the time he had never known a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or the same behavioural disorders that the character Steve exhibits. However, Dolan said his own mother is an inspiration to his his writing.
With Dolan acknowledging mother-son relationships have always been an underlying theme in his work, the specific idea for Mommy came about after directing Antoine-Olivier Pilon in the music video for "College Boy" by Indochine, finding him to be a great actor. Inspired by another song, "Experience" by Ludovico Einaudi, he wrote a scene about a mother fantasizing about a future with her son that will never come to be, and wrote a story around it. Dolan stated it was important to show how unpredictable mental illness can be in a home. The concept of the S-14 law was inspired by an article he had read about a mother who used a law to transfer custody of a child to the state, although in an interview with Le Devoir, Dolan could not recall which country this happened in.
Mommy was filmed in Longueuil, Quebec. Dolan said that when filming, the actors and crew were often rewriting their lines. In casting actresses Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément, who Dolan had worked with before, he assigned them roles that he felt were the opposite of what each had previously played.
The film was shot with a handheld camera, in a 1:1 aspect ratio, although most modern films are shot in 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratios. On the unusual aspect ratio, Xavier Dolan said, "I know a lot of people are saying, 'Oh, 1:1, how pretentious.' But for me, it seems a more humble and private format, a little more fitting to these lives we're diving into. Cinemascope [2.35:1] would have been extremely pretentious and incompatible for Mommy. To try to get in that apartment and film these people in that aspect ratio would have been unseemly." He also said cinematographer André Turpin had long wanted to experiment with the format. Dolan denied the ratio was meant to invoke the website Instagram, emphasizing this is the original aspect ratio in film history.
The film premiered on 22 May 2014, at the Cannes Film Festival, concluding with a 13-minute standing ovation. The film opened in Montreal on September 8, and in Toronto on October 3. In France, the film was distributed by Diaphana Films, with associate company agnès b. selling Mommy necklaces to promote the film. The film's U.S. distributor Roadside Attraction waited until 2015 for its release.
The film became available on the U.K. Netflix in 2016, with Dolan publicly criticizing the company for altering the unconventional aspect ratio and demanding, "Take it as it is, or remove it." Netflix corrected the ratio hours later.
On its opening weekend in Quebec, the film made $471,902. Mommy was Dolan's first film to achieve success at the box office, grossing over $3.5 million domestically in 2014, becoming the highest-selling film in Quebec for 2014. In Canada alone, it reached the $2 million gross on October 16.
According to the Montreal Gazette, over one million people went to see the film in France. The film ended its run on March 19, 2015 after making $3.5 million in North America and $9.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $13.1 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 89% "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 115 reviews, with an average score of 7.9/10; the site's consensus states: "As challenging as it is rewarding, Mommy finds writer-director Xavier Dolan taking another impressive step forward." On Metacritic, the film holds an average score of 74, based on 34 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews" in accordance with the website's standards.
In Canada, David Berry of the National Post gave the film four stars, writing, "As a movie, Mommy is a very similar thing to its namesake jewellery, a flashy, scary, gorgeous little piece of home, a shiny bauble that still manages to hang very close to the heart." Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette gave it five out of five stars, calling it "the absurdly prolific young auteur’s best film yet" and "an ode to the strength of tough working-class single mothers everywhere," and praising Anne Dorval as "extraordinary." Brian D. Johnson of Maclean's credited Dorval for an award-worthy "powerhouse performance." Johnson saw Mommy as more mature than Dolan's previous I Killed My Mother, writing "the tables are turned" in writing the film from the mother's perspective. Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film four stars, saying its smartphone-style picture made it timely and concluding it was "one of the best movies of the year, period." Liam Lacey at The Globe and Mail gave the film three stars, calling the introductory information about S-14 "clumsy," but added "What makes the flaws forgivable is Dolan’s love of his characters."
On 21 May 2014, Mommy received a four-star rating from The Guardian reviewer Peter Bradshaw, who described the film as "a splashy, transgressive treat, from trailer-trash chat to unexpected sex and surprising emotional depth". Following Dolan's receipt of the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Guardian writer Xan Brooks introduced the film as "a boisterous Oedipal comedy". Peter Debruge of Variety called it "A funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work." Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times wrote the film "feels like nothing less than Dolan's magnum opus, for the time being at least." Sandra Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that while she initially found there was "too much noise, too many emotional eruptions and too many tone-deaf subtitles," she found Pilon and Dorval's performances to be "remarkable." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three and a half stars, calling it rattling. The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern, while finding the acting "powerful," found fault in the aspect ratio. Richard Brody of The New Yorker panned the film, saying the depiction of Steve "has no basis in psychology; rather, it appears as Dolan’s own pseudo-transgressive artistic tantrum."
The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. The film won nine Canadian Screen Awards at the 3rd Canadian Screen Awards in 2015, including Best Motion Picture and ten Jutra Awards at the 17th Jutra Awards, including Best Film. It was also Best Foreign Film at the 40th César Awards.
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|Camerimage||Bronze Frog for Best Cinematography||André Turpin||Won|
|3rd Canadian Screen Awards||Best Motion Picture||Xavier Dolan and Nancy Grant||Won|
|Achievement in Art Direction / Production Design||Colombe Raby||Nominated|
|Achievement in Costume Design||Xavier Dolan||Nominated|
|Achievement in Cinematography||André Turpin||Won|
|Achievement in Direction||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|Achievement in Editing||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|Achievement in Make-Up||Maina Militza||Won|
|Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role||Antoine Olivier Pilon||Won|
|Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role||Anne Dorval||Won|
|Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role||Suzanne Clément||Won|
|Achievement in Overall Sound||Sylvain Brassard, Jocelyn Caron, François Grenon and Luc Landry||Nominated|
|Achievement in Sound Editing||Sylvain Brassard, Benoît Dame, Isabelle Favreau and Guy Francoeur||Nominated|
|Best Original Screenplay||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|2014 Cannes Film Festival||Prix du Jury||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|40th César Awards||Best Foreign Film||Mommy||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2014||Best Foreign Language Film||Mommy||Nominated|
|David di Donatello Awards||Best Foreign Film||Xavier Dolan||Nominated|
|Dorian Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Mommy||Won|
|Wilde Artist of the Year||Xavier Dolan||Nominated|
|Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur||Best Actor||Antoine-Olivier Pilon||Won|
|Best Actress||Anne Dorval
|Best Cinematography||André Turpin||Won|
|30th Independent Spirit Awards||Best Foreign Film||Mommy||Nominated|
|17th Jutra Awards||Best Film||Metafilms – Nancy Grant||Won|
|Best Director||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|Best Actor||Antoine Olivier Pilon||Won|
|Best Actress||Anne Dorval||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress||Suzanne Clément||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Colombe Raby||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Xavier Dolan||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||André Turpin||Won|
|Best Editing||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|Most Successful Film outside Quebec||Mommy||Won|
|Billet d'or Cineplex||Mommy||Won|
|20th Lumières Awards||Best French-Language Film||Mommy||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Picture||Mommy||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Language Film||Mommy||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Anne Dorval||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Suzanne Clément||Nominated|
|19th Satellite Awards||Best Actress in a Motion Picture||Anne Dorval||Nominated|
|Best International Film||Mommy||Nominated|
|Breakthrough Performance Award||Antoine-Olivier Pilon||Won|
|Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival||Best North American Independent Film||Mommy||Won|
|Toronto Film Critics Association||Best Canadian Film||Xavier Dolan||Nominated|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Canadian Film||Mommy||Nominated|
|Best Director of a Canadian Film||Xavier Dolan||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Canadian Film||Antoine-Olivier Pilon||Won|
|Best Actress in a Canadian Film||Anne Dorval||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Canadian Film||Suzanne Clément||Won|
|Best Screenplay for a Canadian Film||Xavier Dolan||Won|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Mommy||Nominated|
- List of submissions to the 87th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Canadian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
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