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A peculiar neighbor offers hope to a recent widow who is struggling to raise a teenager who is unpredictable and, sometimes, violent.

Release Date:May 22, 2014
Production Co.:Téléfilm Canada, Super Écran, SODEC, Metafilms
Production Countries:Canada
Director:Xavier Dolan
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:quebec, dysfunctional family, single mother, mother son relationship, behavioral disorders
Alternative Titles:
  • 亲爱妈咪 - [CN]
  • 慈母多恶儿 - [CN]

Mommy Reviews

  • 'Not a dull moment with Steve'
    by Vladdus on 16 February 2015

    81 out of 104 people found the following review useful:

    Five months ago, I had no idea who Xavier Dolan was. Now, after watching 'Mommy', I have no hesitation in saying that he's one of most talented artists to have come into prominence in the past few years.

    What director and writer Xavier Dolan, who is 25, achieves with 'Mommy' is quite spectacular. Not only does he manage to impress with top-notch directorial skills and an impressive and complex understanding of human relationships, but he has successfully accomplished the ultimate goal of a filmmaker: transmitting emotions -- pure, unaltered feelings.

    I was never a supporter of the idea of re-watching films; I thought that by re-watching a movie, you would lose precious time that could have been used to watch a potentially even better film. However, 'Mommy' has completely destroyed this concept for me. Leaving the cinema room, I had a sense of restlessness that went away only after watching it for the second time. And guess what? The feelings the film transmitted remained as fresh and relevant as they were the first time.

    There are a myriad of aspects that are worth discussing when referring to this film: the fabulous actors, the impressive use of music, the clever use of colors, the numerous jaw-dropping cinematography-related details and the variety of raw feelings 'Mommy' explores. But, by analyzing each of these aspects in detail, you may risk to experience a film whose surprises will not be as poignant as they would be by discovering them yourself.

    I can safely say that 'Mommy' left an indelible mark on me. Its honesty, the beauty it exudes and its life-affirming tone make for an enthralling chef d'oeuvre that will undoubtedly have a certain effect on whoever decides to watch it.

    To sum up, 'Mommy' manages to do what an important piece of art does: communicate authentic feelings. And, for this, I am grateful. Bravo, Dolan!

  • Absolutely Stunning and Powerful Masterpiece
    by maria talia on 5 October 2014

    67 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

    Wow! I was left with tears and emotional instability after watching this film. I mean this in the best way possible of course. I've never been so emotionally AND PHYSICALLY moved by a film. Mommy is so powerful and touching in so many ways because it captures a lot of problems, turmoils, and emotions that we all experience. In fact, it didn't feel like I was watching a film. I felt like I was living with these characters and experiencing everything they were going through. Laughing with the characters during their happiest moments, crying with the characters through their darkest times, and feeling frightened of what would happen next were all sentiments I felt throughout the film. This brings me to one of the most amazing aspects of the film-the acting.

    The acting was absolutely superb! Everyone was terrific. The three main characters depicted by Anne Dorval, Suzanne, Clément, and Antoine Olivier Pilon were so engaging and compelling. They WERE their characters. I didn't feel like I was watching actors acting-it was so real! Bravo to all the whole cast!

    The cinematography was breathtakingly beautiful. Xavier Dolan films are always a treat because they are all so visually stunning. Dolan captures many of the activities we do such as dancing with our family and friends, falling onto our beds, riding our bikes/longboards, and karaoking so majestically. Dolan is truly talented.

    I was very excited to see Mommy for the longest time and I was not disappointed. I was transported to a different, magical, yet realistic world. I want to thank everyone involved in the production of Mommy. It was extremely powerful and so painfully relatable. I think about this film everyday and still get emotional. The soundtrack was lovely-I listen to it everyday and the songs evoke so much more meaning now. EVERYBODY, GO WATCH MOMMY!

  • Anne Dorval is AMAZING
    by nicholascarlson on 13 July 2015

    21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

    Anne Dorval is far and away the best actress I have had the pleasure to watch in the past couple years. She was solid in J'ai tuer ma mere. She is explosive in Mommy! I haven't written a review yet but her performance encouraged me to do so. Antoine-Olivier Pilon was great, and Suzanne Clement was also top notch.

    I've never been so deeply affected by a movie. I went back and forth between laughter and tears throughout the entire movie. There were several scenes that I related to....

    Something that really resonated with me was the scenes where the 3 main characters were laughing, dancing, enjoying life. I personally have a hard time remembering the moments in my life where I was truly happy. I believe that is because in those moments I was so deeply immersed in conversation and laughter that my brain was incapable of creating a memory. While watching Mommy I wasn't able to remember those moments in my life but I was able to make the connection because the performances and script were so realistic. Thank you Xavier Dolan! Waiting for more...

  • A whirlwind of emotion: Dolan's most affecting film
    by (spiral_static) on 3 November 2014

    36 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

    "What does anyone want but to feel a little more free." Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

    Mommy is a film about extraordinary, ordinary people. Individual scenes may be small and everyday, but what Mommy has to say is bigger, deeper: about life itself. The film reminded me of the above quote and freedom and our quest for it is the biggest thing Mommy has to talk about for me. It's about this and also about love and family and how those closest to us are so entwined they're not entirely separate beings to us. It's easily Dolan's most affecting work to date because within it every scene stems from and is full of emotion and conveys this to the audience.

    In fact the film is so filled with emotion it is hard to remember the extremes it reached. It is so devastating by the end that I had to really think back to recall how I'd laughed out loud earlier on. There is a lot of humour in the film (in its observation of characters and what they say and do, but the time that got me most of all was when two characters laugh so hysterically you can't help but laughing out loud too – there's a real danger of us all descending into uncontrollable laughter alongside the ladies on screen!) which made me glad to watch it in a full cinema where the reaction could be heard from the audience. Despite this, by the end Dolan puts you through the wringer, and all that is left is our heartbreak for his characters and that that quest could never be.

    Dolan's characters, for me are always his greatest strength. Not so much the specifics of them (though I must say these three are unforgettable in that sense!) but how they work. Since his first film, he has managed to express often deep or complex aspects about who his characters (and thus, who we all!) are inside in a way where I feel it. It isn't a thing that is easy to talk about because for me Dolan can tap into the kind of things the people in his films are and feel and do that often defy rational logic but yet which we all understand totally. Wow, confusing, much?

    Anyway, here too, Die, Steve and Kyla (all exceptionally portrayed) are the heart of the film. They all feel like real people and despite the 2.5 hour running time, somehow at the end of the film you feel they've been snatched away from you. All actors can convey so much in an expression or action that you feel a world of their emotion and understand things about them without them needing to be said.

    The three main characters in the film all become tied to each other in a way where they're kind of enmeshed. This is most true with Steve and Die who I feel are not entirely two separate people. They are Son and Mother, but more than this – they are man and wife, lovers, little kids – sister and brother, he's prince to her queen and Steve can be the father and Die the child. He is she and she is he and this is a bond that is wrapped up in who these people are. This makes the love Dolan's familial pairings have for each other unbreakable. Steve and Die fiercely are protective of each other: above all else. Yet in this, as in Dolan's other films, people entwined together struggle to exist almost as one being when despite how interwoven they are, they are individuals too. How to be separate, yet one? Dolan's characters push each other away and pull each other tight but they can never be entirely individual, nor can they escape each other. This is for me the true link between all of Dolan's films thus far.

    I just want to say something briefly about the very start to illustrate the detail I felt in the film, without describing every detail which would sound trite. Though we'll come to know Die, Mommy of the title as many things, here we are first introduced to her as Mommy: she is shown in a visual sense as the roots, the trunk of the family tree.

    I guess I should talk about the fact that the film is shot in a square of screen and to be honest I barely noticed it until a truly glorious moment when the screen opens up as a character exclaims their freedom and we see our three leads feeling free fleetingly. It gave me chills. After this moment, when the screen closes again – now you feel what at least I hadn't really noticed until then – that this aspect ratio works as a visual representation of how trapped these characters are. The screen closes in at a time that truly illustrates this and from then on the black sides feel as though they're kind of that-which-will-remain- forever-unreachable. The only time the screen expands again attests to this for it is a character's dream of the future.

    Mommy is pitched in an ordinary world, but at extremes of emotion, but at the core there is always honesty in what it says and it's this that for me makes Dolan a great filmmaker. Dolan gets people and when you understand people enough to not just make a film in which you care about the characters, but to make a film where no matter the character, their experiences resonate: then, you have something magic.

    "What does anyone want but to feel a little more free." I quoted at the start. Though Mommy wends through humour to ultimate heartbreak, for moments in it its characters are free and perhaps through this as we escape in its world, it allows us to feel a little more free also?

  • Messy and shamelessly indulgent but with a powerful performance at its forefront.
    by Sergeant_Tibbs on 19 October 2014

    51 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

    People who know Xavier Dolan know what they're walking into when they buy a ticket for Mommy. While he has a loyal fanbase that seems to grow more passionate about him by each film, some don't like him at all. This is my first of his films and I can immediately see the case for both sides. However, as Mommy is being called his most mature work yet, I take pause to imagine how infantile his previous films are as this has its moments of worrisome juvenility, though the 'mature' moments have a gutsy weight. At only 25 years old and on his 5th film in as many years, there's a cathartic energy to the way he approaches cinema that is quite refreshing to see. He throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks. Some of it does, but I regret to say, much of it doesn't, and what falls off drags the film down.

    Frequent headliner for Dolan's previous films and having starred in 4 of the 5, Mommy stars Anne Dorval as the titular character Diane 'Die' Despres, in a whirlwind performance of tantalizing vigor and sensitivity. She's a widowed single mother who takes her thuggish son Steve, played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon, back home after his time runs out at a delinquent center due to an incident where he caused another boy to be seriously burned. Arguments in their house always escalate to the point of violence, but they find solace in bonding with their stuttering but kind-hearted (with a lioness bouncing inside) neighbor Kyla, enticingly played by Suzanne Clement, who begins to tutor Steve so he can have the potential for a future.

    Immediately you can feel Dolan's hand ready to sculpt the film beyond reason. It begins as an unnecessary fantasy set next year with a fictional law to serve the plot. Perhaps it needs this disconnection from reality. It's wired with high-strung melodrama that escalates outrageously. Granted, that is the point of the film, that a little spark can ignite a forest fire, but it crosses a line where it ceases to be involving or convincing, and nor is it darkly comical. At first it's difficult to invest in the film, the characters are so unlikeable and unsympathetic, victims of their own tempers and ignorance. Dorval wins you over handedly, channeling Marisa Tomei better than Tomei herself. She's grounded enough to make the drama work. However, Pilon overdoes the irritation to the point where you sincerely don't wish him to succeed and that's a major problem with the performance and the way Dolan treats him. It's unbearably obnoxious.

    But when it's finally toned down in the tense calms before or after the storm, it's really great. It's thoroughly embroiling, enrapturing and heart-breaking drama, or a complete joy depending on the scene. That's the flipside of a film that's heightened to 11 on either end of the scale. It was constantly losing me and winning me back. Eventually, the losses were weaker and the wins were stronger. Sometimes the stylistic indulgences were enjoyable and added to the tone. Otherwise they disrupt the flow of the film entirely, with the use of slow motion, out of focus shots and unnecessary interludes of music videos. Those of which were poorly chosen iconic tracks that I can't tell whether Dolan actually knows how done to death and unsalvageable the Dido and Oasis songs are for instance. He exercises zero restraint – but he does not care. There's somewhat of a charm to his contrarianism.

    What's most fascinating about the film and what particularly sets it apart given the familiarity of this type of melodrama is the aspect ratio. It's boxed in at an unusual 1:1, imprisoning the characters so they feel crushed by the weight of the stresses of their personalities and consequences of their actions. It occasionally breaks free of it when hope floods back into their lives. It's an incredibly expressive way to use the space of a frame, much more emotional than the intellectual way Wes Anderson did it this year for The Grand Budapest Hotel. As such with a melodrama, the cinematography is vibrant with alluring colour, making good use of that voyeuristic box we watch the story from. Fortunately, when Mommy hits the sweet spot, it's utterly overwhelming. Dorval is the only consistent aspect in an unashamedly bloated, indulgent and messy film. It could be too polarizing to be a serious contender for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, but a nomination remains to be seen.


    Read more @ The Awards Circuit (

  • Phenomenal acting
    by Red_Identity on 14 March 2015

    23 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

    Not what I expected. It's a film that features quite a lot of dark elements, but the film somehow manages to be really touching in such an odd, but effective way. I don't think it's flawless. The script has a few cracks here and there, and it sometimes feels a bit aimless in what it's trying to say. I also very much enjoyed Dolan's directorial touches, but many times they're a bit jarring and too stylistic for its own good. However, what I will not at all criticize is that 4-minute sequence near the beginning of its third act (you know which one). That glorious score with those images created a profoundly moving sequence, one of the most emotionally powerful scenes of the year. But that's how a lot of the film is. I liked it a lot, but it can feel like many great individual scenes and yet not as cohesive as a whole

    The acting here is phenomenal though. The three leads and the places they go to are harrowing and they probably rise the material greatly. The ending was a bit too obvious and not very original, but I'll take it

    Not as enamored with it as most, but I still found it to be a truly incredible experience that is no doubt so inherently interesting and entertaining, much like the only other Dolan film I've seen Tom at the Farm.

  • Visceral
    by Cosimo Carmagnini ( on 20 January 2015

    26 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

    There is definitely a lot to say about "Mommy". So many sides to it that I honestly do not know where to begin. The first aspect that really got a hold on me was the cinematography, as well as the photography. The camera, directed by Xavier Dolan, manages to make the viewer breathe an aura of beauty and gleam in most of the scenes, insofar as the movie as a whole can actually be classified as one of those rare masterpieces in which you may - and often you do - easily get lost. And the soundtrack certainly plays a role in this game. From Dido to Céline Dion, from Eiffel 65 to Andrea Bocelli, from Oasis to Ludovico Einaudi, each artist and each song is perfectly accurate for the moment in which it is played. Especially and eventually Lana Del Rey with her "Born To Die". But I think the greatest aspect of the entire movie, if you can find one single aspect better than another one, is the structure and the interior complexity of the very few characters. Both *Die* and Steve, and Kyla as well, have a both strong ad anguished personality, and the bounds that exist among them are, in one word, visceral. As visceral as their true essence. As visceral as the situation in which they are imprisoned, and from which they can escape only in very few moments of « Liberté », as Steve screams to the sky. Only in this coinciding moments the framing widens, turning from a square to a giant rectangle, and the spectator is suddenly swallowed by the excitement of the characters, by their joy. By their innate and genuine HAPPINESS.

  • The film is a riot. Excellent piece of cinema.
    by prabhat1729 on 29 March 2016

    7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

    When I thought of watching 'Mommy' there were two factors which militated against it. One was language barrier. The movie is in fluent French and I know from experience that a lot of meaning is lost in translation via subtitles. Second was the cultural barrier. Being a middle-class conservative Indian, I usually find it difficult to connect with many foreign thematic films. But to my sheer surprise, 'Mommy' was a complete riot – far better and stimulating than 'Batman vs Superman' crap which I crawled through the previous day.

    'Mommy' is one of those movies where screenplay moves fast yet the story unfolds slowly. This ingenuity shifts the film from art-house to entertaining realm. 2-3 months of characters' lives take around 130 minutes of screen time which give ample time for all details to unfold. Despite the subject matter being serious, the film never appears to be dry. Thorough importance is given to character development. I must add that I haven't seen such marvelous character development in my recent history of film-watching. We get to know and empathize with all idiosyncrasies of the characters. We laugh and cringe with the on-screen characters.

    The plot of the film is not predictable at all. Just when you think you figured out what is happening the story throws up a new dimension. At places hidden emotional feelings of Patrick are insinuated which compel the viewer to churn his mind. Die's dream sequence towards the end of the film showing Patrick's life successful and happy was truly surreal and well placed - a mother's dream for his son.

    Overall, 'Mommy' is the finest Canadian film I saw in a long time. The film is truly a riot - an excellent piece of cinema.

  • The Elephant In the Room
    by A_Different_Drummer on 24 September 2015

    13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

    A powerful well-acted and brilliantly directed film which may never reach the audience it deserves ... and that is because of the "elephant in the room."

    Some auteurs, possessed of a single vision, will "paint" their story against an unusual backdrop to make it stronger. That backdrop can be anything from the emptiness of space, to the time of a past world war, to an imaginary future to a village in a country that never existed.

    Such is the magic of film.

    MOMMY uses the backdrop of French Canada. In its own way, with its own unique history, as exclusive and remote location as the one Sandra Bullock found herself in when her shuttle was damaged.

    Everything about the film deserves attention, even the bizarre use of an exceptionally tight Aspect Ratio -- other reviewers have heaped praise on this bizarre affectation, but the TRUTH is that audiences around the globe will be on the phone with Tech Support 3 minutes after the credits roll, trying to figure out what just happened to their $5k home theatre system...?

    The film is not only shot in French Canada but is one of the only so-called "mass appeal" films from Quebec to unleash that unusual Quebec dialect to the max (a dialect so obscure that even tourists from Paris France have trouble with it) and actually parade it, like a badge of honor, from scene to scene.

    And therein lies the agony and the ecstasy.

    As the earlier reviews show, Canadians in particular will look (listen?) past this and patiently seek the cinematic rewards therein. For them this is not a problem -- they have been trained to do this from birth, it is now part of their DNA.

    Viewers from other parts of the globe may not be as forgiving, however, and this creates both paradox and dissonance. And limits the ambit of the film's true audience.

    Which is a pity. Quel dommage.

  • Dolan's future cannot be brighter
    by lasttimeisaw on 6 September 2015

    3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

    Xavier Dolan, Canadian infant terrible's fifth feature, MOMMY is gratifyingly his maturest work to date, won the Jury Prize in Cannes last year, and gutsily challenges our traditional cinema habit by altering the frame to an idiosyncratic 1:1 aspect ratio - bar two exceptions of 16:9 ratio sequences involving a soul-liberating celebration of life and a fanciful imagination of a mother indulging in her proudest moments of his son, which is quite a bravura to pull off, centralises its characters and dramatises their interactions and emotions.

    Retracing to the central theme of his smash debut I KILLED MY MOTHER (2009, 7/10) at the age of 19, but sans the queer label, MOMMY is concentrated on Diane (Dorval), a middle-aged widow and his teenage son Steve (Pilon), who is diagnosed with ADHD and afflicted with a proclivity of violence and self-abuse, apart from other misconduct in the present Canada. Their intimate mother-son life-pattern has gone through an extensive scrutiny from Dolan's invading camera with a tagline like this - sometimes love cannot save one person, anticipates the finale. They fight and reconcile, confess their love but also swear to each other and even roughhouse, she has to walk on thin ice with him while he is recalcitrant and rebellious.

    Their volatile relationship has been wondrously balanced out since a new neighbour Kyla (Clément) barges into their life, her first intrusion happens exactly after a most violent incident could ever occurred between mother-and-son. Then the triangle starts to stabilise into a wholesome dynamism, Kyla, a compulsive stutter who claims to be a high school teacher on sabbatical and very evasive about her past, albeit she lives across the street with her husband and a young daughter. A semi-friend-semi-family liaison is luxuriantly budding between Kyla and the family, she home-schools Steve so that Diane can earn some extra money as a house cleaner, life is not easy, but all of them feel content and optimistic, they dance, bike/skateboarding, prepare food and dine together, here is when the first 16:9 ratio sequence exuberantly inserted literally by Steve extending the screen on his skateboard.

    When Diane receives a citation from court, due to a previous wrongdoing of Steve, which demands a great sum of compensation, the screen retreats back to the square frame, life is just a winding road, a tentative plan to befriend with their lawyer neighbour Paul (Huard), who has always been flirtatious towards Diane, goes awry thanks to the uncooperative Steve. Strife emerges again and after Steve's unsuccessful suicidal attempt (or just a way to raise attention and state his point, since who with a firm intent to die will cut his wrist in a packed supermarket?), Diane must make the most difficult decision after she ravishingly envisions a perfect future for Steve, the gorgeous-looking 16:9 section accompanied by Ludovico Einaudi's sublime EXPERIENCE is the long-waited high point of this intensive drama, Dolan's usual tricks - slow-motion, soft focus, close-up - are all consummately deployed in a fantasy we could only wish would be true for our protagonists. Not too soon we are sucked back to the grim reality, staring at the square again, a coercive separation, a heartrending goodbye and the ambiguous/unambiguous ending (Lana Del Rey's BORN TO DIE is the closing credit melody), after all, it is not a film for those faint-hearted.

    Within this close-knit cast, Dolan successfully sheds his pompous swagger to be overtly impressive and ostentatious which is often associated with a devil-may-care resolution among young filmmakers, and has trespassed the threshold of intolerance in HEARTBEATS (2010), my least favourite among his 5 features, instead, he patiently teases out the top-notch chemistry among his three main players, calculated in minute precision. Dorval, is utterly majestic to personify a stimulating mother image poles apart from I KILLED MY MOTHER, Diane has an uncouth and kitsch temperament which she cannot hide, then it materialises that it is a useful approach to communicate with her equally bad-mouthed son, but her unconditional love to Steve, sincere affinity with Kyla, and a strong faith in hope (the poor man's luxury), all marks her as a remarkable and vivid human being out of Dorval's outstanding dedication. Clément, another muse of Dolan, comes to the fore in her more introvert characteristic to hide her secret (a dead son in her past only fleetingly implied but never actually revealed), Kyla's stutter is a convenient barometer of her emotional state and Clément is amazing to the hilt. As for the newcomer Pilon, his Stevie is a spitfire with explosive fierceness, a nightmare to any parenthood, with fitful charisma on the verge of dissipation at any minute due to inappropriate external stimulation, it is a prime casting choice and he chalks up a grandstanding presence.

    From Sarah McLachlan, Dido, Counting Crows, Oasis, Lana Del Rey to Andrea Bocelli until the national treasure Celine Dion, etc. MOMMY's soundtrack is an ear-worm hits collection, measures up to Dolan's eclectic taste in music, emblazons the youthfulness and urbanization in his filmic tack, better than lighting up the mood, it coherently indicates the progression of diegesis which will continue to be one of Dolan's trademarks. Finally, MOMMY positively attests that a prodigy can survive the inevitable backlash and hopefully evolve into a bonafide maestro, Dolan's future cannot be brighter in this regard.

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