Monday, June 16, 2014

I Killed My Mother Review

I couldn't really make a connection to the content of the film I Killed My Mother because honestly, I never had a relationship that strained with either of my parents. Sure, we had our issues and our ridiculous arguments and I sometimes would get too hyperbolic and announce my hatred for them, but isn't that essentially how every single teenager-parental relationship goes at some point? This lack of personal connection doesn't diminish a thing though, and instead of relating the events of the narrative to my life, I couldn't stop thinking about what I was like when I was 19 years old.

I was 19 years old in 2003, and I may have legally been an adult but without a doubt I was still a stupid kid. I never got in much trouble or anything, it wasn't as if I was a problem child, but I spent my time working part time and spending my money on illegally obtained alcohol, pornographic magazines, gambling, and the occasional stash of marijuana, all of which I hid from my parents. I was attending college courses, but attending is a loose term in this circumstance because I ended up walking away from the curriculum when I decided that taking a nap in my car was far more enjoyable than sitting in a lecture. Luckily for me I am really good at mathematics and accounting and acquired a job that said "College Degree Required" despite not being in possession of one, but I digress. 

When I was 19 years old, I didn't truly understand the depth of human relationships. Hell, I didn't even understand myself. When Xavier Dolan was 19, he was crafting this near masterpiece of a film with precision and maturity that even today I can barely comprehend. I am humbled by this level of talent at such a young age.

Despite the amount of angst and intensity portrayed on screen, not to mention a rather dark title, I Killed My Mother is a beautiful film filled with raw, genuine emotion, and the fact that Dolan himself admits the work is semi-autobiographical as it is based on his adolescence dealing with being a homosexual teenager probably adds to the depth of believable feelings being unleashed throughout the film. Dolan also plays the lead role in the film, which sometimes can backfire with such an unseasoned amateur filmmaker and yet I saw no issues with the double duty here. 

When watching the work of a young filmmaker I am always curious to see who may have inspired them, what films may have been playing in their minds when they realized their dream was to follow in the footsteps of past auteurs, and it is no secret than Dolan was heavily inspired by the work of Wong Kar-Wai, specifically the stunning masterpiece In the Mood for Love, his repeated use of one musical composition combined with slow motion sequences are too jarringly similar to ignore. Also the title of the film and where it is derived from is clearly borrowed from Truffaut's The 400 Blows, and while some may criticize these things as being some form of cinematic plagiarism, I admire the fact that a 19 year old kid is so familiar with such true artists that he can directly reference their work and do so with class. I walked away from the film feeling like Dolan was showing his respect for the cinema that motivated and captivated him, not that he was passing off a style or a storytelling device as his own.

The only aspect in which Dolan may have went a little overboard and overstepped his limits considering it was his first ever feature was with his usage of symbolic imagery, like he may have been trying a little too hard, but still, only once maybe twice at the most did any sequence feel out of place and make the flow of the story feel uncomfortable. Otherwise this really is a masterful work, and I found it exciting to watch something so brilliantly crafted come from a person that legally couldn't even buy a beer in the United States. To say I am impressed is an understatement. Do yourself a favor and watch I Killed My Mother for yourself, see just what I mean. 


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