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I Killed My Mother2009

  • 4.0
  • passes the bechdel test
Focusing on the relationship between Hubert Minel (Xavier Dolan), a 16-year-old Quebecois living in suburban Montreal, and his single mother Chantale (Anne Dorval), I KILLED MY MOTHER beautifully captures the anxieties of a mother-son relationship. While he gauges her with contempt, only seeing her out-of-date sweater and kitschy decor, the ingrained mechanisms (i.e. manipulation and guilt) of their relationship beautifully (and tragically) unravel on the big screen. After its 2009 debut, I KILLED MY MOTHER was nominated for dozens of international film festival awards, and quickly became an international sensation, launching Dolan's career in the international film scene.

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"What makes it extraordinary is its depth of feeling, which Dolan's age makes all the more impressive: he was just 19 when he made this." - Peter Howell, Toronto Star

1 member likes this review

One of the most accurate portrayals of a deteriorating relationship I've ever seen.

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Member Reviews (19)

top reviewer

The film tries too hard. Too many subsidiary characters. And way too much shouting and screaming and yelling. This is bombastic action/directing and kind of ruins many of the scenes when the son screams endlessly at his mother. The production quality is excellent. The story line about a mother and son is so over-blown that there is little tenderness and little nuance, except at the end. The obligatory bullying scene is not needed. I suppose the mind of a 17-year-old is pretty confusing and complex, but in this film the direction is over the top many times. As for the gay sub-theme, it's handled very well. And the actors' good looks do add appeal to the film. Overall, a good effort that could have been much better if the director had toned down some of the scenes.

3 members like this review

One of the most accurate portrayals of a deteriorating relationship I've ever seen.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

I was impressed with the writing, acting and dramatic development in this film . Almost every scene is filled with dialogue (with a few slo-mo or arty scenes, which are not gimmicky but rather suited to the emotional subject. The one exception: when Hubert was chasing the teacher in a wedding dress, I wasn't sure to what end that scene served). Anyway, the dialogue between mother and son is extremely deft, at first one empathizes with the son but by the film's end one is also empathizing with the mother. It isn't corny, I got some laughs out of it. Very fine work, I look forward to checking out more of Xavier Dolan's work.

1 member likes this review

Beautiful - beautifully felt and amazing acting - a great film

1 member likes this review

Dolan has an interesting style as a director. The strange yet accurate rapid cuts to introduce a scene are appealing. While the visual style is sloppy yet almost suiting for the mood. A very unique way of creativity depicting a mother-son relationship that is degrading. And also concluding everything with some uniform idea of understanding one another to really make it all work.

Dolan character is also an interesting one to study. His choice of telling his lover that he "fell down the stairs". I believe the film was a social commentary on LGBT, but more importantly on the conscious/angst of a teenager.

1 member likes this review

Easily one of the best first films ever made! This guy I thought was a lot of hype but having sat down and watched his directorial debut, he clearly is the real deal. Tres magnifique!!!

top reviewer

There is a deep emotional truth to this work, an endless, painful yearning for everything to finally be okay amidst all the trouble. Dolan has impressive cinematic judgement and sensibility for such a young director. The characters are complex, and intelligent, but plagued by their psychological blindspots like most of us are. There is drama, comedy, style and payoff here. I'm looking forward to moving through Dolan's subsequent works.

top reviewer

It is essential and remarkable to note that this film was made by an 18 year old filmmaker! Highly stylized and visually astute, this movie may slip off the rails but it is often an amazing cinematic experience. The dialogue between mother and rebellious young adult is painfully realistic. It is probably more tied to the director's youth and inexperience that it all ends up being a bit over-wrought. Yet it can be denied that the film's situations would be experienced with a great deal of angst and passion.

"I Killed My Mother" is an amazing example of a great film artist in process of mastering his skills. He may over reach and gesture a bit too much, but this is clearly an unrestrained work of a great filmmaker about to happen. And this gorgeous film was made for just under $800,000 Canadian dollars. Quite a feat!

top reviewer

A problematic film to say the least, but NOT TO BE MISSED toward the end, is the mother telling off the boarding school principal in what may be the Single Most Epic Feminist Attack Rant in History -- directed over the phone against an insulting male chauvinist pig who calls to tell her that Hubert has run away from school and, by the way, why are you such a shitty mother? This film is worth watching for that alone. Epic. HOWEVER. This film has lots to say ... too bad it didn't say it. Mystified I am as to why this film is so fussed-over. Two sociopathic shrews repeatedly shrieking at each other like battling lovers -- yet one is the mother and the other the closeted gay son. Marxian alienation, perhaps. The film is a ghastly. peurile, infantile, juvenile, immature and vastly overrated and overhyped extravaganza. Poor writing, if any; shallow character development at best, if any; incoherent story development, if any; poor directing, if any. Lo my surprise upon the film finally, mercifully concluding to find that the writer, director, producer AND lead actor were all the same person: Xavier Dolan. Not much creative frisson when four job descriptions are filled by the same human being, n'cest pas? Shallow, trivial, conceited and superficial. Could have been so much better. Narcissistic personality disorder, anybody? Anybody? Anybody. If this is the calibre of what can be expected from a celebrated young filmmaker, then... perhaps the very shallowness, callowness is yet one more sign of the looming capitalist apocalypse. This film has lots to say ... too bad it didn't say it.

top reviewer

AMAZING film. Hard to believe someone that young can write, act and produce such an absolutely excellent movie. Enjoyed it a great deal. Thank you!

Very original.

Brilliantly filmed, smartly written and powerfully acted.

Very artistic and emotional. I felt for the mother throughout this movie. I also did not lack empathy for the son. I am glad he didn't actually murder her.

A tasteful melodrama. Even when its plot runs thin, this film succeeds on sheer passion. The result is scrappy and a bit rough around the edges, but consistently engaging, and spiked with moments of visual delight. The main character can often be frustrating in his selfishness - but anyone who has endured a deteriorating relationship will recognize his behavior as true to life. As the film progresses, the dysfunctional characters win us over, and we find ourselves rooting for them all to figure out their disastrous relationships. The seeds of discord are plain to see here; but with time, Dolan reveals the seeds of hope as well.

Very good movie. The acting was very good. The scenery and direction make the movie very enjoyable.


Exceptional. Excellent. Xavier Dolan just won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2014 for a follow up film, 'Mommy' with some of the same actors and themes.

quirky, troubling, complex.

Great acting, complex characters...