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Film / I Killed My Mother

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I Killed My Mother (French: J'ai tué ma mère) is a 2009 Quebec drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan. The film attracted international press attention when it won three awards from the Director's Fortnight program at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. After being shown, the film received a standing ovation.

Teenager Hubert haughtily regards his mother with contempt, and only sees her tacky sweaters and kitsch decorations. In addition to these irritating surface details, there is also his parent's cherished mechanisms of manipulation and guilt. Confused by this love/hate relationship that obsesses him more and more each day, Hubert drifts through the mysteries of adolescence - artistic discoveries, illicit experiences, the opening-up to friendship, and ostracism. The turbulent relationship between mother and son unfolds with a compelling combination of savage fury and melting affection. The stunning, semi-autobiographical directing debut of 20-year-old actor Xavier Dolan.


I Killed My Mother provides examples of...

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Antonin helps Hubert escape from boarding school, and then proceeds to accuse him of being selfish and only caring about himself. At the end, he breaks down, and admits, "I love you."
  • Autobiographical Role: Xavier Dolan, the writer and director, wrote the script when he was sixteen and based much of it off of his own life. Since he plays the lead role, it appears he's playing a version of himself.
  • Boarding School: Hubert is sent to one. It doesn't end well.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Xavier Dolan, François Arnaud, and Niels Schneider. And they're all speaking French, to boot.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Hélène offhandedly mentions what a nice couple their sons make to Chantale. Hubert hadn't come out to his mother yet; she's upset not that he's gay (she already knew, of course), but that he didn't tell her. Cue another shouting match.
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  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Hubert believes he has some sort of epiphany under the influence of speed, and rushes back home in the middle of the night to tell his mother.
  • Mommy Issues: Hubert has plenty, and it's the central theme of the film.
  • My Beloved Smother: Hubert views Chantale as one.
  • Off to Boarding School: Invoked by Hubert's Disappeared Dad rather than his mother's new significant other. While the decision to send Hubert away is hypothetically a collective one between both of his parents, it comes across more as Richard dealing with Chantale's inability to take care of Hubert and Richard's lack of desire to take control of custody.
  • Parents as People: The film gives Chantale a fair, three-dimensional portrayal as it does Hubert.
  • Queer Romance
  • Teachers out of School: Subverted, since Hubert and Julie regularly converse outside of school, and Hubert even crashes at her house a few times.
  • There's No Place Like Home: When Hubert runs away, the first place he thinks to go is his "kingdom," his name for his childhood home.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Technically, his dad invites him over, and only to tell him that he's being sent off to boarding school. Usually, Hubert only sees his father twice a year, on Christmas and Easter.
  • Wham Line:
    Hubert: What would you do if I died today?
    Chantale: I'd die tomorrow.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Antonin explicitly asks that Hubert not cheat on him as soon as he's surrounded by depraved boarding school boys. Hubert promises not to, but cheats on him with Eric almost as soon as he matriculates into the school. Interestingly, Hubert gets no consequences for this, as Antonin never finds out.

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