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Mommy (2014)
Xavier Dolan, Canada

Xavier Dolan should really be a source of national pride for anyone who's Canadian. And although he's no stranger to accolades on an international level, I don't think his name strikes a note with most Canadians who aren't film aficionados. And that's a real shame because he has been putting Canada on the map ever since his debut feature in 2009 (I Killed My Mother), and his movies are phenomenal. Much like Wong Kar Wai and films of the French new wave, Xavier Dolan's work just feels like art. Every scene feels overly purposeful and there's always a strong pronouncement that what you're seeing and hearing is a product of cinema. With Mommy, you have a film that simply never stops giving. The masterful use of contemporary music, the existential dilemmas threaded throughout the screenplay, the gushing cinematography of André Turpin, this list just keeps on going. I'll admit, the restricted aspect ratio was a bit of distraction for me initially, but when you start to understand why the scenes are being constructed this way, the payoff is completely worthwhile. I got to see this in a theatrical setting recently as part of TIFF's Canada On Screen program, and the moment when Antoine Olivier Pilon's character stretches out the screen to present things in its full widescreen beauty? I wish I could freeze that moment and just put it on repeat. It was such a satisfying moment that fully personifies the power of cinema and the beauty of seeing a film in theatres. Mommy is just full of moments like this, and to think that Xavier Dolan is currently only 27 years old just blows my mind. If you're a Canadian and don't know who this guy is, PLEASE find out.

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