Xavier Dolan's film set in a post-apocalyptic Canada has a lot of bark and a little bite.

Xavier Dolan (Canada, Special Presentations)

Though great Canadian filmmaking hope Xavier Dolan seemed disappointed to have nabbed only a third-place trophy at Cannes this May for Mommy—tied with that other other spring chicken, Jean-Luc Godard—he should buck up. If Mommy isn’t the revolutionary masterpiece its partisans want it to be, it’s at least an accomplished, actor-driven melodrama and a nice step forward in a successful young career.

After a superfluous title card that sets the film in an apocalyptic future Canada where parents can deposit their wayward youth into the hands of the state, Mommy settles into a nice rhythm as an emotional, talky three-hander between exhausted mother Die (a very strong Anne Dorval), volatile firebrand son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), and gentle, stammering neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément), who fleetingly negotiate their way to a peaceful coexistence in the cramped space of Dolan’s claustrophobic 1:1 frame. Like the title card, the square frame is a cheeky aesthetic garnish too many, but thanks to the fine performances of MVPs Dorval and Clément, we’re starting to come around to Dolan’s excesses.

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