Directed By: Xavier Dolan

Starring: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, and Suzanne Clément

I've said this a million times, but I love movies about crazy people.  These are the kinds of films that feature immensely intriguing characters and offer loads of spontaneity.  These are the kinds of films that tend to boast fuller, richer performances that resonate with me.  It's one of the reasons I love Xavier Dolan's Mommy.  The Canadian drama boasts some fascinating performances as Dolan navigates one of the most emotionally intricate mother-son relationships we've seen in years and simultaneously delves into the heart and mind of one disturbed young man. 

In the S-18 bill that the Canadian government has just recently passed, there's an S-14 law that gives parents and guardians the legal and moral authority to commit their minors to a mental health facility if they deem it necessary.  Widow Diane "Die" Després (Anne Dorval) may have to exercise this authority in the not too distant future.  After setting fire to the cafeteria and injuring several other residents, Die's son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) is being released from the juvenile detention facility at which he's been living into her care.  Turbulent times quickly ensue with this troubled, violent adolescent back home, and Die's love for her son will be put to the test.  Die does, however, eventually receive unlikely help from her neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clément).

Despite its rather soft title, Mommy is a fierce drama that serves as the ultimate test of a mother's love.  It's a slow motion train wreck in which we know what the emotional wreckage will resemble.  We just don't know how much Die's character will endure or the proverbial straw that will break this camel's back.  It's an incredibly complex and intensely co-dependent mother-son relationship.  As the film progresses, the lines of love blur, the relationship between Die and Steve becomes almost Oedipal in nature, and emotions are fast and furious.  Xavier Dolan puts together one hell of a movie in Mommy.

At times riotously funny and at others relentlessly impactful, Mommy is a film that's defined by its authenticity.  Dolan does a great job of creating this incredibly personal world in which there are very few characters, but his characters fill this world with a certain kinetic energy and unmistakable emotion.  Perhaps it's the narrow definition and camera angles he utilizes to create this intimate feel.  Perhaps it's the enjoyable soundtrack that brings out a certain zest from each of our main characters.  Regardless, there's a very raw and real vibe that pulsates throughout the world of Mommy, and Dolan's stylistic flourishes empower his cast to give the film that energy.

What makes the film even more engaging is that none of the characters fit the archetypes of what we expect mothers and sons to typically be.  The actors do a terrific job bringing these irreverent characters to life.  For her part as Die, Anne Dorval gives us a very flawed woman who certainly won't be winning a mother of the year award any time in the near future.  Wearing a tough yet tragic facade to mask her troubles, she does whatever she must to care for her son and hold onto her dreams for his future.

For his part as Steve, Antoine-Olivier Pilon really captures the pendulum-like moods of a teenage boy with ADHD and an attachment disorder.  In one moment, he can be happy as a clam.  In another, he can be a violent monster unable to stop himself from hurting the ones he loves.  It's a really strong performance from the young actor.  Lastly, we have Suzanne Clément as Kyla.  In a mostly quiet performance, she's the wild card.  A rather dainty figure, she's clearly not fit to be part of Steve's world for the long haul.  We're just waiting for that moment when she'll explode in her interactions with Steve. When that moment arrives, Clément strikes cinematic gold.

As this awards season comes to a wrap, one has to wonder where the love was for Mommy.  This is an outstanding drama that got nowhere near the recognition it deserved.  Xavier Dolan's Mommy gets a sober rating.  Find this gem and enjoy the ride.