Entertainment

This Is Why Everyone Is Talking About ‘Mommy’ Director Xavier Dolan

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Xavier Dolan may be 25 years old, but the French-Canadian filmmaker already shares two things with cinema legend Jean-Luc Godard: the 2014 Cannes’ Jury Prize and an audience erupting into applause over their films’ unprecedented technical achievements. But Dolan’s creative innovation is hardly the only reason for such acclaim; with five films under his belt already, the filmmaker has quickly proven himself a unique and inspired talent to be recognized. He wrote directed, produced and starred in his debut film, 2009’s “I Killed My Mother,” at age 19. Next, he’s planning to work with Jessica Chastain and Kathy Bates.

Now, though, it’s “Mommy” that has his attention. The film, which debuted at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, follows working single mother Diane “Die” Deprés (Anne Dorval) as her troubled, violent teenage son, Steve (Antoni-Olivier Pilon), arrives to live with her after a stint in juvenile hall. Die, as emotionally puerile (or free-spirited, however you perceive it) as Steve — she signs her name with a heart above the “I” with a pen from her clunky, bedazzled key-chain — gains help from her neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clemént). But similar to Dolan’s other work (which you can watch on Netflix, save for “Tom at the Farm” which Dolan confirmed is coming to the U.S. soon), what “Mommy” does best is examine raw relationships and the emotional trauma we each quell and manifest in our own ways. Easily Dolan’s most accessible film to date, “Mommy” fosters an intimacy between its characters and the audience, partly due to the relatability of Dolan’s writing and partly due to the 1:1 aspect ratio, which Dolan recently told HuffPost Live was used to emphasize a “focus on human beings” in the film.

But, while Dolan may receive praise for his work as a director and writer, he still considers himself an actor first. HuffPost Entertainment sat down with Dolan at the Mercer Street Hotel in New York to talk about his predominate love of acting, why he reads all his films’ reviews and how he’s a champion for mothers and the female perspective.

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“I Killed My Mother” is told from the son’s perspective. Here, we get the mother’s. How was that to write?
I’ve been embracing mothers’ points of views for five films now. “I Killed My Mother” was written from the point of view of the son, but saw the mother win in the end. She was the one who had the most emotional scenes and who ended up being both the victim and the hero. I’ve always embraced the mothers’ points of view, I’ve always fought for mothers. In “Laurence Anyways,” Nathalie Baye is Laurence’s mother, and she is quite an awful mother. Still, she is the only one in the end who truly accepts her daughter. So, no, it wasn’t difficult to write that. It’s actually more easy to embrace women’s point of view and especially mothers’.

What is it like not acting in this film, as well as “Laurence Anyways”?
Very cruel. I don’t really mind not…

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