Quebec wunderkind filmmaker Xavier Dolan, who ten years ago at the age of 20 arrived at Cannes and knocked their socks off with I Killed My Mother, returns to the Croisette with Matthias and Maxime about two young childhood male friends, who after a kiss as adults, begin to question their true feelings.
As a filmmaker Dolan’s canon is famed for its homosexual themes and mothers of varying personalities. In Matthias and Maxime, the latter character is about to leave home for a trip to Australia and has to contend with a sick, abusive mother as he tries to leave her in the care of a guardian. How bad is mom? Despite her son’s good intentions, she throws a can at his head.
Said Dolan today at the Cannes press conference for the film, “Many say they recognize mothers and homosexuality in my films. In regards to mothers, we all have one, that’s the origin of life. They’re women and individuals and they have strengths and problems and behaviors which are extraordinary to explore.”
“I love characters who are cruel because they are not happy living their life as it doesn’t reflect their most inner feelings. I like characters who have very strong reactions in terms of their environment and their friends, because they may feel a bit shameful about themselves,” said Dolan.
“This film is not gay, It’s life. We never talk about heterosexual films. ‘Oh, I saw this great heterosexual love story.’ For me, it’s not a story of homosexuality or gay love. Ultimately, I don’t think that the two protagonists are aware that it is gay love. It’s love,” says Dolan.
He expounded that the pic also explored the current millennial generation’s attitude toward sexual identity, that it’s not so cut and dried like when Dolan grew up. It’s looser, and the film zeroes in on the choices these two young friends have to make about themselves, and whether friendship is better than being romantic partners.
“The film is not just a mixture of my preceding films, it’s an opportunity for me from a formal stance to try something different and explore another part of myself, in terms of being more restrained, making more artistic decisions. I’m not going to spend my entire life filming people who quarrel in the kitchen,” says the filmmaker who cast his friends in the movie.
Dolan said his previous films were darker in color and tone, largely greens and browns, and that in Mattias and Maxime he implemented more of a neutral, half tone palette.
The filmmaker’s previous movie, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, repped his first English language film and featured a star-studded cast including Natalie Portman, Kit Harington, Thandie Newton, Susan Sarandon, Michael Gambon, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Gadon and Emily Hampshire. The pic centered around a young boy and his pen pal correspondence with a closeted teenage heart throb TV star. The movie made its world premiere at TIFF.
Dolan has had a remarkable track record at Cannes, and arguably is one of the few directors with the most awards coming out of the fest.
2009’s I Killed My Mother won three prizes: CICAE, Regards Jeunes and SACD Director’s Fortnight. His film Heartbeats from 2010 took the Regards Jeunes prize. 2012’s Laurence Anyways took the Queer Palm, 2014’s Mommy won the Jury Prize, while 2016’s It’s Only the End of the World took home the Grand Jury Prize, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Seville International is handling sales on Matthias and Maxime.
Dolan next stars in New Line’s It: Chapter Two which opens on Sept. 6.