TOM AT THE FARM | MOVIE REVIEW

Xavier Dolan is a French Canadian movie making prodigy. I am only a recent fan to Dolan’s work but upon seeing his first film HOW I KILLED MY MOTHER (of which I have reviewed but yet published) I immediately fell in love with his work and the man himself, after one film he has been added to my top ten directors-of-all-time list. He made HOW I KILLED MY MOTHER at age 19 and is now 25yrs old with FIVE successful feature films under his belt. He is a director, who happens to be gay, and his films always involve a gay theme, of sorts, but he not only directs, he stars, he writes, he edits and he normally does the costumes as well. His work wins award after award and this film, TOM AT THE FARM, was his official entry into this year’s SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL. If you missed it at the SFF you can still catch it as it is out now for THE POSSIBLE WORLDS FILM FESTIVAL. It is rated MA15+ film and it runs for 102mins. Get session times and buy tix to TOM AT THE FARM HERE.

 

TOM AT THE FARM MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
TOM AT THE FARM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

Tom, a young dude with hideous hair, travels to the country for the funeral of his boyfriend Guillaume. There, he discovers that no one knows who he is, nor his relationship to the deceased. Guillaume’s brother soon sets the rules of a twisted game. In order to protect the family’s name and the deceased’s grieving mother, Tom now has to play the peacekeeper in a household whose obscure past bodes even greater darkness for his “trip” to the farm.

This is a very different film to Dolan’s first film, and ashamedly the only other work I have seen of his, (I have ordered his collection on DVD and hope it’s in the mail this afternoon so I can watch them all tonight), where as I KILLED MY MOTHER was a visually orchestrated work of attention to detail and a visual onscreen art work this film has flipped all of that on its head and Dolan has gone for a much more reserved and bland canvas, fortuitously this allows the acting to shine, and the close ups and minute details of every form of emotion to take centre stage.

 

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TOM AT THE FARM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | AGATHE (LISE ROY) AND TOM (XAVIER DOLAN)

 

And stage would be the correct word, the film is based on the stage play of the same name by Michel Marc Bouchard. Dolan wanted to change the pace and direction for his next film as all previous films deal with “impossible love”. He also has some clear “mummy” (or”mommy”) issues, probably why his next film is titled MOMMY. But every one of his films has an exhausted mother in them.

I do not see this strays too far from his theme of impossible love as 1) his lover is dead (impossible) and 2) the sexual tension with his captor and tormentor is bordering on psychotic and emotional rape (not the most possible or desirable).

The film is a psychological Hitchcockian film that examines the Stockholm syndrome, Tom falls for his captor and comes to love them/ him in a sense. Tom is a lost and emotional wreck of a person, after losing his boyfriend, Agathe welcomes Tom into the family, seeing him as a form of replacement.

Agathe is my favourite character of the film, she is so guarded and internalised that she is either diabolical and the matriarch in this fucked up family that has taught her values to her wicked son, Francis, or she knows all about Tom and Guillaume’s life together and is terrifed of her son. But this is the Hitchcockiness of the film, you never really know, it is just there to mess with your mind in tandem mind destruction with Tom’s state.

 

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TOM AT THE FARM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | FRANCIS (PIERRE YVES CARDINAL) AND TOM (XAVIER DOLAN)

 

Tom is petrified of the abuse when it starts but comes to be numbed by it and accepting of it and gains a sense of belonging with it and this psychotic family. I felt Tom embraced the need to be wanted, and Francis needed him, he is an asshole, a motherfucker that beats up others and torments people weaker than him as though they were a bug to be destroyed. Tom gets so used to his new life he even comes to accept it as the way things should be.

In the hands of lesser people this film would probably fail but Dolan is a master and this film does play out like a stage play, it really is a twisted and slightly macabre film but also restrained to the point of a slow boiler, a film oozing in tension and terror.

Dolan doesn’t even need to direct, or act, or do a multitude of things on all of his films, his acting alone is award worthy, his directing as much so, if not more so. The fact he can all round his films with as much talent in every aspect will be a legacy of his and incomparable by most in Hollywood, I found this performance as good if not better than his performance in I KILLED MY MOTHER. He is so physical in his performance and his entire body buzzes with the character, his close up facial acting tells more than words.

 

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TOM AT THE FARM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | TOM (XAVIER DOLAN)

 

Pierre-Yves Cardinal (Francis) is menacing and chilling, but also charming and at times loving, he is the perfect psychopath. Lise Roy (Agathe) is the perfect grieving mother/possible matriarch devil woman. You love her and you are petrified of her.

The film also has the occasional moment of dark humour in it that really do break it up and lighten the load. One thing that must be mentioned is the super score from Gabriel Yared, it truly wraps the Hitchcock tone into the film. And the opening song of the film, a cappela version of “Les moulins de mon coeur” performed by Kathleen Fortin is just beautifully soul touching.

Dolan is respected and applauded the world over, I do believe, well, hold high hopes this will get a cinematic release later in the year at your Dendy or Palace Cinemas. For me Dolan is one of the greatest cinematic artists of this generation and his films are never to be missed.

 

4 Pops

 

 

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