|Antoine-Olivier Pilon opens the frame in Mommy (2014)|
There is a moment in Xavier Dolan's film, Mommy (2014), where Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), a troubled teenager who has been dispatched to several group homes and is now living with his mother after he caught fire to the cafeteria and seriously injured another boy, breaks open the screen. It's an interesting moment.
But to zoom out a bit. Mother and son seem to have this affective bond that is both generative and at times destructive — but anyway, the point I want to make is similar to what A.O. Scott wrote in his review of the film: at the midpoint of the film after Steve has been tutored by his shy neighbor Kyla who seems to have the ability to soften his violent outbursts. In the scene, Steve is feeling free and he actually stretches out his arms and makes the screen wider — which is really kind of neat considering the movie is mostly restrained by a tight 1:1 ratio (like a square — which some people say reminds them of a cell phone camera). The film literally opens up and we feel the surge of trust coupled with the hope that the film has promised us — as well as the feeling of a downward spiral to come when the screen closes back up again to its restrictive 1:1 aspect.
The movie is bombastic and melodramatic and I admired its intensity and the several Home Alone references that weirdly fit.
Mommy just opened in the United States a few weeks ago and it won the 2014 Jury Prize at Cannes (shared with Jean-Luc Godard's story of a dog-cum-traveler — Adieu au Langage (2014).
Image Source: Debordements