Top 10 of the Year
Mommy by Xavier Dolan.
Suzanne by Katell Quillévére.
Mommy and Suzanne are two quite distinct films and it is interesting that they are my favorite films of the year. I saw Suzanne in May, while Xavier was premiering his soon to be Cannes’ darling and I guess other than that, the only things they have in common is that they’re Francophone and they made me cry like hell, big ugly crying and sobbing.
They’re clearly hotter than 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street of course, because I saw the latter a year ago. But it would probably be the same case, if I had seen Mommy a year ago as well.
Mommy is inventive and loud and grand and stylish and beautiful and musical. It focuses on the great intense love between mother and son, that it is also problematic because of the son’s mental health. For a while, the entrance of Kyla in their life, their shy neighbor, infuses and maybe even strengths their relationship, it becomes this trio of broken hope. The performances are high and breathless and full of life, they are as touching as they are real. And then the songs, which I pretty much based my review on, they’re such a big mark. It is only natural that he started working on this film after working on this video clip starring his soon to be actor, Antoine-Olivier Pinot, and the way he pictured the song and the sequence of this boy getting married and such, basically Diane’s dream sequence.
Suzanne is minimalist, quiet, intimate and beautifully driven by these touching performances of this great cast. The story revolves through the years, where we see these young sisters growing up, having a single father with very little means and often absent because of his work. Suzanne and Maria are actually very decent young women, but Suzanne gets pregnant at a very young age by a young man that isn’t quite straight in life and that will eventually be the end for Suzanne, as she is completely head over hills with him and will never be able to overcome that. There’s a lot of suffering in the story, for sure, but it is also about the human being’s resilience, about the way we keep fighting and moving forward. Katell shows us the way we deal with love, unconventional mother and son relations, about the love of a father, the love of a sister and finally, it is utterly earth shattering the way she reflects our flaws. Like I said, the performances are a huge part of this film, obviously driven by a compelling and competent screenplay. Adèle Haenel conveys a freer woman, and the way we see her suffering because of her sister, the way it affects her, this is probably why she got that glorious César Award. But to me, it comes down to Sara Forestier. The way she conveys emotion, the way she is so attached to this character that you can’t really see anyone else. It is one of the most touching performances I’ve seen recently.
It was because of Sara Forestier that I cried and cried and cried for half an hour, like I couldn’t stop. The last shot is her face, she gives this gentle, almost shy and a bit hopeful smile…just remembering Sara Forestier, her face, is making me cry! Also, I think of these three Dolan’s darlings, Suzanne (Clément), Anne Dorval and Antoine and the last scene between the two women – we feel so much of the strong and meaningful connection between the two, the pain they feel for the position they are now, it is like their emotions in this scene not only resume Mommy and its message, but it expresses what they’ve been through over the past few months and how this will leave a mark on them for the rest of their lives. We are so incredibly connected to them, it is like we are there or we want to be there, we want to shout at them we want to hug them and tell them it will be alright, even though it might not be, and you want them to hug each other and feel each others’ love and acceptance and care. But that doesn’t happen. Sometimes it is a dialogue, sometimes there’s no dialogue, just a look, just a sentence to break me down completely. Anyway, this is what I live for, when I see a film and how wonderful can it be?
They are really different films and ones I am immensely admired by.
I love Xavier Dolan, I’m a huge fan of his work all around, it is my type of cinema and it is the cinema I aspire one day to maybe create. Xavier Dolan also has a special place in my heart because basically I see him grow as I grow along with him. It is funny how Xavier Dolan mentions Titanic so often. He is so my generation. Even in the way he references Home Alone in Mommy - when Steve puts some aftershave, probably from his fathers, in his face and shouts or when Diane is coming from the groceries and the bag cracks open. We both grow up watching these films each Christmas. Obviously, everyone watched Home Alone, but it is part of our growing up. And then the songs. We’ve both the same age, we’ve been seeing the same films on TV…kind of, so it is a really special time to follow this now new world’s cinema It Boy.
12 Years A Slave
See, it is right at the top. You’re in the theater, witnessing this raw film, you feel it in your skin and as the film ends, you leave the theater sore, the story and those characters, this man’s life follows you back home. What a great film. Steve McQueen is so intelligent and it is a pretty unique thing to watch a film as raw as this one. The dialogue is just brilliant, the performances and the staggeringly beautiful scenery is all part of a film to remember. Oscar Winner of the Best Picture.
The word entertaining is the first thing that comes to mind. This is cinema, an interesting story told with great depth and style and composure and thoughtfulness. Gillian Flynn script is so damn competent, what a brilliant woman (who works a lot).
The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The Grand Budapest Hotel has everything on its right place. Every little tiny detail, every technical department comes together in this glorious and entertaining film by the remarkable Wes Anderson.
The Great Beauty
What can I say? I like style, I like pretty. It is called The Great Beauty. There are a lot of interesting dialogues and ideas to get your mind satiable and fervent, besides the style and grandness of La Grande Bellezza!
We Are the Best
I love We Are The Best because it completes my measures. It’s highly original and it is such a required story to be told…not that required, but it is lovely when it happens, because a story like this doesn’t come often, trust me. Not so often we come across with this unique and witty voice, in the writer of We Are the Best. This is the film where we can feel the good intentions and care and maturity to the bone. It is like the I Am Not a Hipster, in terms of truthful honesty. And it is so fun!
Clouds of Sils Maria
It is the kind of film it grew in me as the minutes passed and its story evolved. It is also because of Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche’s act. It is one of this year’s treat! It’s so great, it’s so yummy, it’s first class act. It is also a good story, filled with a sense of verisimilitude.
“I’m just a dreamer, I dream my life away.”
I like these dreamers, these idealistic romantics, these men and women that dream big and get to fight and live their romantic ideas. I think Mike Cahill is one of those hopeful dreamers and his follow up to the accomplishing and unique Another Earth is great. He elevates himself and I Origins is where he dreams a little bit bigger, where he takes a step forward, he keeps being himself, following his ideas and being a dreamer, basically. Good God, this film is so romantic. I’m a sucker for romance, Cahill. Anyway, I found this film interesting from the very beginning. I wanted to know and wondered what this film would be, what he would be showing us. And that is cool. He proves us his meaningful presence in the new wave of American Filmmakers with interesting stories to tell.
Besides being one of the most special films of the modern American Cinema, it is also a pretty great film. (I sort of want to scratch this one out.)