Friday, May 9, 2014

Tom à la Ferme

A film by Xavier Dolan.

A love letter. Someone died.
A young man arrives at what seems to be a dead place. An abandoned place. Only much later in the day he is received by a grieving and lonely mother and, uncovered by his dead lover, her other son.
There’s a sense something’s not clicking. At night, in bed, Tom is bullied by Francis, the younger brother, who threatens him and forces Tom to forge a story about his brother’s love life, utterly unknown to her mother. Things are just odd. Suspicious. Who are these people?
With Dolan’s script and efficient direction, the level of mystery and oddity increases constantly as Tom decides to stay in this place, in this farm. It becomes the way Tom dives in his grief. He seeks for the lost intimacy through the younger brother. He’s lost in this strange and uncovered world. He milks the cows, he delivers them. He tangos with the brother, and he keeps being bullied by him. Now even if Tom wants to leave, he can’t because Francis took his car’s wheels.
It seems as this woman and her son are in this dark bubble, now emphasized by the death of the son and brother. We start to understand their behavior. This mother has nothing and no one for years but the cows and the son. Her humor is absolutely unbalanced. All you know is that there’s something about them, but what? Something must have happened.

Without realizing, we are as trapped in this farm as Tom is. Until Sarah, the fake girlfriend comes along. This is another glorious moment from the film. This young woman, played by Evelyne Brochu, brings us back to our common reality. It’s like a slap in the face, the outsider who brings the proper rationality. She confirms us this foreigner world, this family’s social unbalanced manners and she’s the one who originates the story’s big revelations. Turns out, Tom’s boyfriend wasn’t quite the faithful and invested boyfriend, as everyone knew he had sex with everyone, including Sarah. And then finally, the reason why this family is an outcast.
Xavier Dolan does what he usually does best, which is to bring a unique tone and consistency to his films. The story is about a young man’s grief, a passage in a man’s life which I’m sure quite the remarkable one. It’s suspenseful. It’s about the mystery and we can only be fully invested. I’m sure Dolan’s film enters the LGBT queue, but once you’re in the middle of it you forget about it completely. I love this about the film. It’s ideal to me.

You’re just as trapped in the farm as Tom is.

Great film.

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