We've all been there. Stuck somewhere with strangers who are banging on about people you don't know and you feel obliged to laugh along with the regaled antics - 'Ah sure, that's Conor for ya. Conor is Mary's boy, by the way. That's Mary Daly - not Mary Roach' - and all you can do is smile and nod and eye the door. You really have no clue who these people are and you don't care.
hat's Tom at the Farm, Xavier Dolan's disappointing follow up to the sublime Laurence Anyways; the talented and prolific French-Canadian was only twenty-three when he directed that 2012 epic, but his latest is The Magnificent Ambersons to Laurence's Citizen Kane (we're prone to hyperbole here).
avier Dolan plays the eponymous Tom who is somewhere in the Canadian countryside for a funeral of his lover, a relationship that was kept secret from the grieving family. While he's cautiously welcomed by mother Agathe (Roy), he's met with hostility by Francis (Cardinal), the deceased's unhinged older brother is more than a little miffed he's left to tend the farm and his mother alone. As Tom's attempts to leave the estate are thwarted by the controlling Francis, he begins to find an affinity with the place...
fter directing an epic masterpiece at such a young age what does one do? Attempt to replicate or outdo that success? Dolan, in his defence, does neither, turning in a stripped back affair that's even lacking the writer-director's eye-catching visuals and his penchant for throwing in pretty music video sequences for the hell of it. It's simpler in scope. It's a film where the entire film lies in the spaces, glances, and strained silences. Some emotional digging is required to grasp why characters do what they do as Dolan's isn't in the mood to explain.
ubtlety is always welcome but at the expense of comprehension? It's difficult to grasp why any character here is angry, sad, happy, etc at any given time (except for mother Agathe, who is obviously distraught over losing her son). Dolan, adapting Michel Marc Bouchard's play, keeps motives close to his chest in the hope that teasing out information will play as minor revelations, but there's no chance of surprise when it relies on characters we haven't got to know yet talking about other characters that have yet to make an appearance. And the use music, which Dolan has played with in the past, is only used in its conventional sense with Gabriel Yared’s score emphasising onscreen emotions.