I Killed My Mother | Chicago Reader

I Killed My Mother

Local moviegoers got their introduction to the young French Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan when his second feature, Heartbeats, screened at the Chicago International Film Festival. That movie, a faux-New Wave tale of pretty young scenesters in a bisexual love triangle, struck me as more flash than substance, but there's a lot more going on in this 2009 drama, Dolan's directing debut. He stars as a closeted gay teen chafing under the restrictions of his hardworking single mom; their relationship has turned so poisonous that when a teacher asks him to write something about his mother, he claims that she's dead. Anne Dorval gives an extraordinary performance as the mother, who lashes out at the boy but can't disguise her own suffering when he lands an emotional punch; their scenes together reminded me of Paul Schrader's Affliction for their sense of familial love gone hopelessly sour. In French with subtitles.

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