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Cannes 2009 Day 6: Full Disclosure in Dolan’s I Killed My Mother

Years beyond his age, Dolan’s assured gem of a directorial debut is at times a confessional, a Valentine’s card and a death wish to the person who incubated him for 9 months and supported him for the sixteen years of his life.

I hate to use the word “prodigy” but I don’t know of too many nineteen year-old filmmakers who’ve come close to accomplishing what Xavier Dolan has done here with J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother). Years beyond his age, Dolan’s assured gem of a directorial debut is at times a confessional, a Valentine’s card and a death wish to the person who incubated him for 9 months and supported him for the sixteen years of his life. Semi-biographical, J’ai tué ma mère is what happens when you have this overwhelming sense that the powers above have given you the wrong mother – and the way it is dispelled it is almost taboo.

Dolan holds his own in front of the camera as the film’s center, I love how his character discharges all his teenage angst towards her in the form of a million little stab wounds, but the moments that might grab viewers are those where Dolan demonstrates mother as more than just a victim, but the person who will shower her on with unconditional love brilliantly played by Anne Dorval. It’s a poignant, sincere, profound film with well-written dialogue, with stylistic flourishes (Van Sant is an obvious influence). Expect this to play out on the film festival circuit. Read my full review soon. Here are pics from the open night premiere.

Xavier Dolan's J'ai tué ma mère Cannes Premiere

Xavier Dolan delivers an eloquent introductory speech.

Xavier Dolan and Anne Dorval J'ai tué ma mère Cannes Premiere

Anne Dorval (a.k.a Mom) and the film’s star, director, writer and producer.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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