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'Mommy' is mostly gaudy shout-fests

The movie stars Anne Dorval as a single mother who does what she can to control and calm her highly troubled son (Antoine Olivier Pilon). Much of the film is redeemed by Dorval’s performance.

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'Mommy' stars Anne Dorval (l.) and Antoine Olivier Pilon (r.).

Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

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The 25-year-old French-Canadian writer-director Xavier Dolan has a heady flamboyance that is sometimes mistaken by cineastes for high artistry. “Mommy,” his latest, has its powerful moments, but too much of it is show-offy in ways that have more to do with camera moves than dramatic truth.It’s about the relationship between a highly troubled youth, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon), and his single mother Diane (Anne Dorval). Steve is full of rages and recriminations – a real handful. Diane does what she can to control him and calm him. 

I suppose the relationship is Oedipal or primal or something or other, but mostly it’s just an excuse for Dolan to stage a series of gaudy shout-fests. Much of the film, however, is redeemed by Dorval’s performance, which somehow makes emotional sense out of Diane’s many exhilarations and exasperations. Grade: C+ (Rated R for language throughout, sexual references and some violence.)

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