I’ve just had the absolute pleasure of watching I Killed My Mother. I Killed My Mother is a 2009 Quebec biographical drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan. It is an exposé on the complexity of the mother and son bond.
The film begins with Hubert Minel giving a black-and-white monologue explaining how he loves his mother but can’t stand being her son; he also reveals that when he was younger things were better between them.
Hubert is a 16-year-old Québécois living in suburban Montreal with his single mother, Chantale, who divorced Hubert’s father, Richard, when he was younger. Hubert barely sees his father and this adds to the animosity between mother and son. Driving him to school one morning an argument starts about Chantale applying makeup whilst driving, the argument ends when Chantale stops the car and tells him to walk to school. At school Hubert claims to his teacher, Ms Cloutier that his mother is dead. After the teacher finds out that it is a lie, she expresses this lie as “you killed your mother”. This inspires Hubert to write an essay for school titled “I killed my mother”.
Later in the film, Hubert’s friend Antonin is revealed to be his boyfriend, but Hubert has not told his mother and she finds out from Antonin’s mother, who thought she knew. Chantale, to some extent, accepts his homosexuality; however she appears hurt that her son didn’t tell her. Hubert wants to live in his own apartment, and is happy that his mother says it is a good idea, but the next day she has changed her mind and does not allow it, she thinks he is too young. Their relationship continues to deteriorate and Hubert goes to live with his boyfriend. His father Richard invites him over however once there Richard and Chantale tell Hubert they’ve decided to send him to a boarding school in Coaticook. Hubert is deeply angered that his father makes the decision being as Hubert only sees his father at Christmas and Easter.
At the Catholic boarding school Hubert meets Eric, with whom he has a minor affair. Eric invites Hubert to go to a nightclub with the other students, where they kiss and Hubert takes speed. He takes the Metro home, wakes his mother, and has an emotional conversation with her. The next morning, she sends Hubert back to the boarding school.
Back at school, Hubert is beaten by two fellow students. Hubert runs away with the help of Antonin who has borrowed his mother’s car. On the journey Antonin tells Hubert that he is selfish and only cares about himself. The school’s principal calls Chantale to inform her of the developments as well revealing the note Hubert left; saying he will be “In his kingdom”. The principal also begins to lecture Chantale which causes her to have an angry outburst at him, saying how he thinks he’s better than her and how he has no right to judge a single mother. Chantale knows exactly where Hubert’s “kingdom” is; the house he lived as a child with both his parents and indeed Hubert and Antonin are there. Chantale sits next to Hubert overlooking the beach. The film ends with a home movie clip of Hubert as a child playing with his mother.
It was a truly beautiful film, that spectacularly depicted the complexity of mother-son relationships, and the difficulties of teenage years, as well as parenting. The characters were portrayed with such raw emotion and honesty that it’s impossible not to empathise with each of them, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with every character. Anne Dorval is terrific as Chantale, and Suzanne Clement as Julie. Francois Arnaud is terrific as Antonin, giving a great showing of his acting talent. However, the stand-out performance was definitely from the absolutely brilliant Xavier Dolan as Hubert, showing off some pheonomenal ability (combined also with the fact that he wrote and directed the film as well).
It’s a truly exceptional film, and one that any fan of cinema should watch.
Thanks for reading.