Dolan's troubled teen wows at Cannes, Loach film disappoints

Thu May 22, 2014 10:10am EDT
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By Michael Roddy and Alexandria Sage

CANNES France (Reuters) - Whizz-kid Canadian director Xavier Dolan screened a tour-de-force black comedy at Cannes about a disturbed teenager's relationship with his mother, while Ken Loach's "Jimmy's Hall," shown on Thursday, described a communist leader from Ireland's past.

The film by Dolan, 25, won raves from critics after its press screening on Wednesday night. British director Loach's latest, on the other hand, was described by one reviewer as "inert". Only three days are left until the main prizes are awarded on Saturday.

"Mommy" is one of three Canadian films competing for the Palme d'Or, alongside David Cronenberg's critique of Hollywood, "Maps to the Stars", and "The Captive" from Atom Egoyan.

It is the fifth film by Dolan, who took Cannes by storm in 2009 with three awards for his debut, "I Killed My Mother." As its title suggests, he is sometimes described as being engaged in "therapy through filmmaking" to work out his relationship with his mother.

"I don't know why this is such fertile ground that inspires me, why do I so often talk about the role of mother in society, the role of women in general," said at a news conference.

"I grew up in a single-family home and I saw my mother fighting for things," he said. "And that made me want, through cinema, to take revenge in a sense. You have the right to do anything you want in a film."

The riveting Anne Dorval plays Diane, or "Die", a single mother trying to raise Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon), a foul-mouthed and mentally unstable teenage son prone to violent outbursts who has just been released from detention.

The film shows Steve, fresh out of a detention center which he has tried to burn to the ground, returning from the mall to proudly present his mother with a necklace that says "Mommy."   Continued...

Director Xavier Dolan (2ndR), cast members Suzanne Clement (L), Antoine-Olivier Pilon (2ndL) and Anne Dorval (R) pose during a photocall for the film "Mommy" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 22, 2014.             REUTERS/Eric Gaillard