Posts Tagged ‘Xavier Dolan’

You’ll understand when you get divorced someday!

Year Released : 2015

Director : Stephen Dunn

Cast : Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Jack Fulton, Sofia Banzhaf and Mary Walsh

Diverting away from films I found in a pile of VHS tapes whilst at the house of my parents, I’m going to look into a film that has been on my Youtube playlist for some time now. I really should get through that list properly as there are some films that have been on there for a few years.

Those of you who are long term readers of this site know that reviewing smaller, independent films meant that I was able to discover up and coming directors such as Xavier Dolan, so to have a film that describes itself as part him, and part David Cronenberg (another great director), is a treat, and one that I couldn’t resist.

If it can be even remotely similar to Dolan’s efforts then I will be very happy as he is arguably the most accomplished director when it comes to LGBT films, but whether it turns out to the the case is another matter as for all I know it could be nothing like either of them, let alone the two combined, but we’ll see.


Oscar’s (Fulton – Child, Older – Jessup) parents split up when he was a child and his only companion was his pet hamster, who he imagines talks to him. His friends also suspect that he will grow up to be gay, but after being called on it he follows a bunch of teens visually beating another young man, ending with them shoving a pipe up his rear. He is traumatised by what he sees and his father Peter (Abrams) says that it happened because he was homosexual, further worrying Oscar.

Several years later Oscar is involved in a photography project with Gemma (Banzhaf) in the hopes of moving to New York when he meets a new co-worker named Wilder (Schneider). Oscar finds himself being sexually attracted to Wilder, but is still haunted by the incident with the brutalised teen from several years prior. This new connection with his feelings coincides with a breakdown in the relationship with Peter.

Oscar and Wilder begin to bond, but a brief conversation between the latter and Peter leads to more trouble as he believed that Oscar and Gemma were in a relationship. Peter slowly starts putting the pieces together and realises that his son might be homosexual.

So is it a genuine mix between Dolan and Cronenberg

For the first time in a long time after seeing a description like that, I feel that I can genuinely see why it was made, and for once I fully agree. There are definitely similarities in the techniques of film making, and I would argue that there is also a touch of Nicolas Winding Refn in there as well. It takes the best aspects of the three whilst feeling completely unique, and this is only a good thing.

The characterisation in the film is remarkable, with the relationship between Oscar and Peter being exceptionally well developed. Their interactions with each other get more and more tense as the film goes on, especially as the latter starts to realise his son’s sexuality. It is an interesting dynamic and the best part is that whilst Peter is as close as the film comes to having an antagonist, he is certainly not an awful human being.

Peter is clearly going through issues throughout the whole film as he struggles through his separation to the point where he keeps his ex-wife’s belongings around, and how he gets hurt when he finds that Oscar described him as a deadbeat in an art project. There are glimpses of him being a good dad, such as the scene right at the beginning of the film where he pretends to inflate a balloon with a dream and place it into Oscar’s head, but he lets the issues get on top of him and each good deed is countered by the opposite.


He is just one of the several captivating characters in the film and visuals definitely aid you falling into Oscar’s world as he struggles to come to terms with what he saw as a youth. This includes a scene in which he is having sex with a man at a party, visualises the brutal attack from his youth, and then imagines himself vomiting screws and a variety of other similar objects.

Make no mistake, this is a visually brutal film, but it is also a captivating experience and it is one of the best LGBT films I’ve seen in recent years, and comfortably one of the most unique films from any genre that I have reviewed for this site. This is helped by the excellent electronic soundtrack, bringing you into this world.

Stephen Dunn is a director that I will be keeping a keen eye on in the near future and if he can produce something as engaging as this on a large scale, he could achieve the same heights of the aforementioned three directors.


“Closet Monster” is captivating, engaging and most importantly, driven. The great characterisation is simple, yet effective, and that is a sign of great film-making.

Stephen Dunn has fell well and truly onto my radar with his mix of Xavier Dolan, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg, and this is about as fresh as I have seen in a long time, certainly for a film in the LGBT genre.

I would thoroughly recommend “Closet Monster” and the films of Stephen Dunn will hopefully appear on this site again.


Hello all

I turned 30 on September 12th last year and at the time I decided to through a bit of a change in my life. I wanted to start doing things that I’ve always wanted to do, such as learn how to skate properly, learn how to speak another language fluently, learn an instrument, etc, and whilst those three have pretty much all died a death, one that stuck is conveying my passion about films.

There were a few reasons why I wanted to do this and one was that I had been inspired by a guy called Chris Stuckmann. Chris reviews films on Youtube but presents it in a way that is highly enjoyable, makes you laugh and he does a brilliant job of conveying his enjoyment of movies. What I love most about Chris is that he isn’t doing it for the fame, he is doing it for his love of the industry and he wants to make things better.  The below is a perfect example of that and I would recommend that you subscribe to Chris and, as he puts it, “get Stuckmannized” (it felt wrong spelling that with a Z)

But anyway, so on September 24th last year, twelve days after I turned 30, I decided to start the film review website, but I didn’t want to just be a copy of any other review website. I wanted mine to stand out and I wasn’t going to do that by reviewing films that everyone else reviews. Whilst I will occasionally write about mainstream films, such as in my Top 10 Films of 2014 , I didn’t want to viewed as just another review site. I wanted to be different and that’s why I chose to write about lesser known films.

Now some of you may be wondering how I decide if a film isn’t well known. Well first of all I look at things such as it’s box office takings, whether it was straight to DVD and a source that I reference quite often, IMDB. On IMDB I will look at the ratings for the film and decide there and then if it’s obscure enough to fit in. Sometimes I will review a film that does have quite a lot of votes, but more often than not I won’t review a film if it’s got more than 5,000 votes, and on occasions I have found that films that I have watched have less than a thousand votes after several years.

The only issues with doing this is that because no-one’s heard of the films, traffic isn’t particularly flowing. There are the odd times when I get a sudden flurry of hits because one of the films I’ve reviewed has been on TV, but largely I’ve been lucky to get over 50. I don’t do this for the hits, I actually do it because I love talking about films, but hits are a good motivator and after a slow start, the hits did start picking up. I am still only averaging around 30-40 a day, but given the types of films I am reviewing, I’m reasonable happy with that.

But anyway, it all began back in September with a review of the little known zombie film, Exit Humanity, ever since then the site has grown and I am continuing to enjoy doing it. My reviews are getting longer than they used to be and although I may talk about aspects of films along the same theme, such as character development, setting, etc, I always try and bring something new to each review.

The best part about doing this site however is that I get to discover a few films that I would never have watched otherwise, and to celebrate the 100th post, I’ve decided to list my top five films that I’ve reviewed (in no particular order) on this site, but in the interest of fairness I’m only going to do films that I hadn’t seen before September last year.

Black Sea – Jude Law stars as a man who is made redundant by a salvage company and he decides to take revenge by stealing gold from a Nazi submarine in the Black Sea, gold that the company knows about but can’t get to due to political issues.

Whilst Jude Law is the star attraction, Ben Mendelsohn steals the show.

J’ai tué ma mère – Xavier Dolan directs and stars in this film about a young, homosexual man and his relationship with his mother.

It’s ingenius in the way that you’re never entirely sure which side of the arguments you’re on and you often find yourself siding with both.

Summer of Blood – Surprisingly good film about a man who is very outspoken and his early days of living as a vampire.


The Hunt – Mads Mikkelson stars as a kindergarten teacher who upsets one of the children and she subsequently makes up a lie about him touching her inappropriately. The local community ostracizes him, even though there is no evidence to back up the claim, and his life slowly falls apart, even after the child admits that she lied.

When I did my Top 20 films recently, this came so incredibly close to being included in that list. It is two of the most emotionally engaging hours that you will ever have at the cinema and looking back on it, I wish I hadn’t wasted some of the spaces that I did when it could have easily been taken up by this film.

Incredible doesn’t even cover it. If I did scores then this film would be a perfect 10 out of 10. T

Tom à la ferme – Xavier Dolan again directs and stars in a film as he plays a man who goes to his boyfriend’s funeral, only to discover that his family knew nothing of their relationship. Out of guilt, he stays to help at the family’s farm, but his boyfriend’s brother refuses to let him leave.

Tom at the Farm, to give it it’s English name, is an incredible, tour-de-force film about Stockholm syndrome,


So anyway…..

So the point of this article was to say thank you to those that have read to the site and subscribed. Thank you for both positive and negative comments. I realise that my reviews aren’t perfect and I do have a tendency not to proof read them before submitting them, but I am enjoying them.

Anyway, I’ll stop taking up your Tuesday evening (obviously this depends on where you are and what time you’re reading this), but please like us on Facebook to get live updates on when articles are posted.


You’ve been back 24 hours and this place is a slum! Tidy the hell up!

Year Released : 2014Mommy-by-xavier-dolan-cannes-poster
Director : Xavier Dolan
Cast : Anne Dorval. Antoine-Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clément

Back in the early days of this site I stumbled across the films of a Canadian director by the name of Xavier Dolan. Tom à la ferme and  J’ai tué ma mère were two of my favourite films that I saw in 2014, they were exceptional, character driven masterpieces that I gave them arguably the best reviews I’ve given on this site. “Tom à la ferme” was an engrossing story of Stockholm Syndrome, whereas “J’ai tué ma mère” gripped you with it’s simple and yet very deep

I loved them. I was less impressed with Laurence Anyways but from the trio of reviews, I still walked away from them with Dolan being one of my favourite new directors and I would jumped at the chance to see any film with him in, and that chance came along when one of my friends had bought “Mommy” and invited me around to her house to watch it.

Now, there are many reasons why I didn’t particularly like Laurence Anyways and I’m not going to lie, when I saw that this film lasted a massive 138 minutes, I became less enthusiastic as the running time was one of the issues with the aforementioned, however, I can’t just one film from a director based on one of their other films, so I just went with it.


Die (Dorval)’s day is already going badly when she is involved in a car accident, but it soon goes to the next level when she receives a phone call from the boarding school where her son Steve (Pilon) is and they tell her that he is being evicted. It emerges that Steve had actually set the kitchen on fire, severely injuring another user of the school. Steve has a hyperactivity disorder that makes it exceptionally difficult for him to interact normally in society and all of the local schools refuse him.

A heated argument between Die and Steve turns violent, with the latter getting injured when a shelf falls on him. Die hides in a cupboard for several hours, emerging to find her neighbour Kyla (Clement) treating his wounds. Die is sacked from her job but can’t take up a new role due to Steve being subject to a court order that would see him sent to a mental hospital if he is not supervised 24/7. Kyla steps in and agrees to teach him, although she is uneasy with Steve’s behaviour, including purposefully fondling his mother’s breasts.

As time goes on Kyla does start integrating with the family but a letter to Die from the family of the boy that Steve injured changes everything as they announce their intention to sue. Die tries to find a solution, but Steve’s behaviour, including threatening to kill someone who mocks his singing and a suicide attempt, only  alienates everyone that tries to help, including a lawyer who is attracted to Die, and eventually she reaches a breaking point.


So, does Dolan have another masterpiece on his hands?

I’m going to put this bluntly, no. I really wanted to like Mommy, I really did, but it’s just tedious in so many respects. The worst of this is the lengthy run time of 138 minutes, and there really isn’t enough content that’s worth watching to make the 138 fly by. It drags and it drags badly, it never seems to be reaching a conclusion and when 90 minutes has already gone, and there is still close on 50 minutes to go, you sort of start wanting to turn it off. Much like Laurence Anyways, this film could have really done with being considerably shorter, and 90 minutes would have been a nice length.

There is also a LOT of bad language in this film and it’s rarity to find a sentence in the first 30 minutes of the film that doesn’t contain at least one swear word. It’s just not needed. If you must insist on using swear words as a director, you really have to use it effectively and it has to feel natural. This film feels like it’s not using it for any purpose other than shock value and I’m not going to lie, I found the overuse of swear words to be quite immature from Dolan. Don’t get me wrong, I still do love Dolan, he has a very interesting way of making films, but again, if you’re going to use swearing in your films, make it effective and not just swearing for the sake of swearing.

The soundtrack is all over the place and whole songs go by with montages on the screen, but the issue is that the montages don’t really add anything and it seems almost like it’s just filler. The entire song of Wonderwall by Oasis, a song that lasts 4 minutes and 40 seconds, passes with nothing much happening other than Steve travelling from one point to another. There is so much of this film that is completely needless. Die has a daydream at one point about Steve getting married and them both celebrating at his wedding, but she hasn’t once during the entire film hinted that that is something that bothers her or not, and that also lasts for quite some time.

It is strange in many ways that there is so much filler because there are big opportunities for plot points that would have been more interesting than the filler. For example, when Steve first arrives in town he has a member of what looks like a hockey team staring at him in an inquisitive way and it would have been far more interesting to watching Steve’s interactions with those around the community rather than random daydreams or dancing for seemingly no purpose in the kitchen.


It’s not all negative though and the relationship between Steve and Die is quite unique and interesting to watch and you never know what you’re going to get going into the scene. There are scenes where you believe that they are perfectly happy but they end with an antagonistic argument, or indeed vice-versa. Their relationship is unpredictable and I like that because you never know what you’re going to get. It links in with Steve’s hyperactivity disorder, and the scene where they are in a physical fight is exceptional because you genuinely think that Steve could kill her.

I really enjoyed the character of Die as she is quite clearly someone who has gotten by on her looks in the past, so much to the point where she gets fired from her job because the new female boss won’t put up with her substandard work, unlike her previous boss that was mainly infatuated with her. That come down for the character happens early on and this only adds to the difficulties that she has because of Steve, mainly due to the financial difficulties of raising a son without a job, especially a son who spends the money without thinking of anyone else.

Steve is an interesting character in that respect and in many ways, he is arguably the most interesting character of all of Dolan’s characters. He could literally kill someone without a second thought and that is terrifying when you think about it. He is played exceptionally well by Pilon, especially in the scenes where the character is in pain and/or anger. There is a scene towards the end of the film where Steve realises that he has been tricked by Die and Kyla, and his reaction, one of anger, confusion and desperation feels exceptionally real, and that is a theme throughout all of Dolan’s films and he is exceptional at it. The emotion always feels real in Dolan’s films and he again achieves this.

One of the reasons I do like Dolan is that although he knows what works in many aspects, but he isn’t afraid to try something new and he uses an aspect ratio of 1:1 for the picture, in other words a perfect square. This brings an unusual visual aspect to the film as most films use either 4:3 or 16:9, but I’ve ever seen a 1:1 aspect ratio. It doesn’t distract from the film so it works relatively well, but it does severely limit what can be shown in the image. Add in the strong amber filters and you’ve got a relatively unique looking film.



I wanted to like this. I really wanted to like this, but I couldn’t. Whilst it’s not an awful film, it’s far, far, far too long and it doesn’t grab your attention for most of it. I found myself walking off for minutes at a time and coming back to find that they were still in the middle of the same conversation, and when you’re able to do that, it’s not a good thing at all.

Whilst Dolan does retain some of what made his other films largely enjoyable, out of his four films that I have seen so far this has been by far the least enjoyable.

The only way I would really recommend this is if you’re on a Xavier Dolan marathon.

We should be able to kill ourselves in our heads and then be reborn

Year Released : 20091334150634444366184
Director : Xavier Dolan
Cast : Xavier Dolan, Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément and François Arnaud

In my last post I reviewed the French language film “Tom à la ferme” and at the end of that I said that I had decided to take a bit of an interest in the films of Xavier Dolan, the writer, director and star of the aforementioned. Following on from that I watched one of Dolan’s earlier films, “J’ai tué ma mère” (I Killed My Mother) and now I am firmly a fan of Dolan, who proves he isn’t a one-hit wonder as he again produces a masterpiece with his semi-autobiographical story about a teenager who struggles to deal with a very strained relationship with his mother.

“J’ai tué ma mère” is again in French and despite receiving an eight minute standing ovation following it’s debut at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, it was barely released outside of non-French speaking countries and recouped less than 10% of it’s $450,000 budget in it’s native Canada. It’s safe to say that despite it receiving such praise, and being nominated as Canada’s entry to the Best International Film category at the Academy Awards, it’s not surprising that it isn’t well known with such limited distribution to the non-French speaking parts of the world.

Dolan has truly shown his diversity as he has written two films (based on this and “Tom à la ferme”) that are so incredibly far apart in terms of tone, pacing and characters that it actually excites me as to what he will come up with the future and the first thing I wanted to do immediately after watching this film was to watch other Dolan films, which for me is what I want out of a director/writer, and one of the main reasons is that his character building it absolutely superb.

I can’t give a comparison from Hollywood as Dolan is truly unique and before I even tell you the plot, I urge you to watch this film, even if the title is misleading as he doesn’t actually kill his mother, nor does he even try and the title is based on a poem that the character writes during the film.


Hubert (Dolan) and his mother Chantale (Dorval) have an extremely strained relationship and after a relatively calm start to the film, they are soon having a full blown argument as she drives him to school. Points of arguments include what’s on the radio, running light and his reliance on her when his friends are starting to branch out into the world. She decides that she’s had enough and forces him out of the car.

Still in school, Hubert decides to vent his frustration about the situation with his mother by writing short stories, poems and recording videos about his true feelings towards her, including a piece called “J’ai tué ma mère” (I Killed My Mother) in which he explores how his mother is just another woman to him.

With almost permanent antagonism towards each other, they rarely have a civilised conversation and when they do, it isn’t long before descends into arguing. Hubert soon confides his feels with his teacher (Clément) and boyfriend Antonin (Arnaud). Hubert’s internal conflicts include admitting that whilst he would defend his mother if someone tried to harm her, he doesn’t love her like a son should love a mother and ultimately the only way for them to ever co-exist is to be separated, but can either live without the other?


So what is awesome about it?

As with “Tom à la ferme” the film feels extremely real. Whilst in Hollywood films everything feels almost plastic, you get deeply involved with the characters in “J’ai tué ma mère” as you can see both sides of the argument perfectly. Dolan is a very selfish person, which even Antonin points out to him, and can barely see past his own needs, but on the flip side Chantale does regularly promise him things (such as having friends around and allowing him to move out of the house) only to then change her mind the next time that they see each other.

It reminded me a lot of my relationship with my parents growing up, and the ultimate message of the film is true of teenage life, familiarity breeds contempt as the only times that the characters do get along in the film are those moments where they have been separated for a while, and it’s the same with me and my parents. I turned 30 recently and I think I now have a very strong relationship with my parents, whereas when I was living with them I felt a lot like how Hubert felt in the film. That’s what makes it feel real, the sense that this could have easily been your life.

One exceptional touch I thought as well, much like true life, is that when Chantale finds out that Hubert is homosexual via his boyfriend’s mother, her initial reaction is one of shock. It’s not anger or disgust like in Hollywood films, it’s again very real. It’s almost a stunned silence as she gets on with the rest of her day in an auto-pilot mode. Infact, she doesn’t even mention to her son that she knows about his sexual preference until much later in the film.

There is one scene in particular that I remember from the film with regards to the relationship between Hubert and Antonin and that comes towards the end when they are painting a room before then giving into their urges and have sex on the floor. It’s quite out of tone with the rest of the film, including being very brightly coloured due to the paint, and I thought that was exceptional as it’s one of the few times you see Hubert happy in the film, so in many ways the tone that was set of it looking like it belongs in another film was right, as Hubert is a bit miserable throughout and this is the one time we see him happy. It also doesn’t hold back and actually shows that characters having sex. I must admit that did take me a bit by surprise.


The acting in the film is superb, and whilst the arguments take centre stage in that respect, the stand out scene comes at the end when Chantale launches into the mother of all rants. She hears that Hubert has run away from a boarding school that he has been sent to and whilst wearing what is quite possibly the most hideous jumper in the history of film, she launches into a rant so passionate and well acted that I just have to write it in this review because it is so fantastic. If you think you have seen rants in a film before, think again.

So the rage begins : “That’s the damn limit, you arrogant individual. Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you teach “Mothering 101″? My manic-depressive mother spent half her life in hospital. I married a coward who left because fathering wasn’t his cup of tea. Fifteen years I’ve been waking up at 5:30 to get to work and drive through goddamn traffic so my son can get and go to school!”

The person she is talking to tries to interrupt….tries being the key word….

She continues : “SHUT THE FUCK UP! Goddman stupid-ass machos! You’re always quick to judge us as you strut around in your goddamn Bugs Bunny ties! You throw your red underwear on. Do you like pink socks, motherfucker? So don’t try to tell me that my son ran away because I’m a single mother! You all have 150 IQs and you, you, YOU auto-congratulate yourselves with your endless diplomas and when a 17 year old escapes from your establishment you dare tell me that I’m a bad mother. You persecute me with your questions and petty insinuations. You project your incompetence on me! Go fuck yourself, you son of a bitch and if I don’t find a reimbursement in my mailbox by next week I’ll come and make you cough up every last penny. HAVE I MADE MYSELF CLEAR?”

At the end of that, having witnessed the pure passion that the actress put into that rant, I almost stood up and applauded. It was just incredible.



Dolan is an incredible director/writer and I would go as far as saying that this is not one ofapproved the best films I have seen during 2014, it’s THE best film I’ve seen during 2014. As I mentioned above, the first thing that I wanted to do when this film had finished was to watch another Xavier Dolan film, and that’s what I want from a film, something keeps me wanting to go back for more.

With characters that are so beautifully and intricately written, making you love them one minute, hate them the next before going back to loving them again, it’s impossible not to find yourself being compelled to watch the screen. It is 100 minutes of excellent cinema, and the rest for that, as I’ve stated above, is that it all feels real. This could be a situation in your life and those are the ones you can truly connect with.

Whilst some may be turned off by Hubert and Antonin having sex on screen, it actually adds something to the film as, as mentioned above, it’s the first time that you see Hubert truly happy and free from pressure.

Next time you go on a whim, try to go for the soybean field. It’s October, corn cuts like a knife.

Year Released : 201353096
Director : Xavier Dolan
Cast : Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Lise Roy, Evelyne Brochu

How often do you watch a film where you don’t know the plot beforehand? That was the situation I found myself in recently when I watched the French language film, “Tom à la ferme” (Tom at the Farm). I had seen it on special offer on iTunes a few weeks ago and just from the poster it looked like an intriguing film, so without knowing what the plot was, even to the point where I didn’t watch the trailer, I decided to wait until I started this blog before watching it blind.

I had no preconceptions about the film going in, all I knew was that it wasn’t in the English language, which is an area I don’t touch on that often to be honest as I tend not to enjoy foreign language films, and can only think of a mere handful in my DVD collection (mainly REC, the Spanish horror franchise), but I might take a closer look at Xavier Dolan’s work after he wrote, directed and starred in this rather suspenseful film as themes such as violence, sexual tension and stockholm syndrome are explored in it#s 102 minutes.

In many ways it being in a foreign language makes it somewhat more enjoyable as you catch more of the plot reading the subtitles, and unlike some other French language films, this has it in abundance. Each of the characters is meticulously written with meaningful purpose (expanded on from the characters in the play that the film is based on) and not a single moment feels wasted, something which I certainly can’t say about a lot of modern films.


Tom )Dolan) arrives at the farm of his now-deceased boyfriend’s family ahead of the funeral. He becomes friendly with Agathe (Roy), the deceased’s mother, although he soon realises that she did not know of her son’s sexuality and in order not to make the situation worse (finding out that her son had been lying to her) for the grieving mother, Tom decides to not read out his speech during the ceremony, a move that particularly offends Francis (Cardinal), the brother.

Francis subsequently terrorises Tom by both physical and mental intimidation, forcing him to remain on the farm by the way of violence, removing the wheels from Tom’s car and various other methods. After several failed attempts to escape, as well as his feelings of guilt towards not correcting Agathe’s ignorance of her son’s sexuality, Tom slowly starts accepting the fate that he will never leave the farm. He also starts developing an attraction to Francis, which makes the situation even more difficult for him.

The two develop a very fragile friendship that is complicated by Francis being fully aware of the relationship between his now deceased brother and Tom, as well as trying to hide the truth from his mother.


So, was it better not knowing the plot?

In a lot of ways yes and I would recommend it. Going in you have no idea what is going to happen, you’re just there for the ride and Xavier Dolan does an excellent job of throughout.

The film does start off with pretty much the only point of aggravation I have with the whole runtime, some terrible camera work. The first five minutes consist of just Tom and at times the camera is so close to him that if the character is going around a corner, the camera follows and we’re suddenly looking at his shoulder, it felt very rushed and I will be honest, I did almost turn off due to that camera work. Fortunately the film does become steadier as it goes on and the cameraman learns how to do his job properly. That is the only major negative in the film and other than that, the opening to the film is excellent as Tom explores the empty farm with some very tense music, and throughout the entire feature the music is excellent.

Dolan does an excellent job as Tom and the way the character develops throughout is exceptional. When he arrives he is very neat and tidy, but once Francis has his grip Tom no longer cares about his appearance, and doesn’t even bother combing his hair, all of which makes the strong hint of Stockholm syndrome towards the end even more haunting.

Cardinal is haunting as Francis, almost to the point where you never know truly what he is thinking. One minute he acts as though he is perfectly in love with Tom, such as a scene where they dance together, and literally in the next you see Tom nursing a black eye. The Francis character has to deal with a lot of internal conflict and his performance, and the general appearance of him, reminds me a lot of how Zarchary Quinto portrayed Gabriel/Sylar in Heroes.

There are many examples of Francis flipping from a seemingly pleasant individual to one that you couldn’t want to meet in a bar (which seems fitting based on a conversation that Tom has with a barman towards the end of the film) and on several occasions they go from having what could best be described as a “nice moment” to Francis coming close to beating the life out of Tom. It’s the type of antagonist that I enjoy watching, one with unpredictability, similar to Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.


With only three characters for the majority of the film, it would become easy for the story to feel limited, but the conflict with Tom of whether he wants to escape or stay and develop his relationship with Francis further (but risk being severely injured on a regular basis) is entrancing, especially near the beginning of the film when you see him making an escape, swearing in various languages before realising he has left his luggage and going back, but then just a few scenes later he is presented with an opportunity to leave and doesn’t take it.

One of the highest points of praise I could also give the film is that the conversations between the characters feel natural. One of the main problems in mainstream films is that very little is said that doesn’t advance the plot, it doesn’t just flow and life doesn’t work like that. One such example of a natural feeling conversation is in the car between Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction where the latter reflects on his recent holiday in France, something that was completely irrelevant to the plot and that’s what life is like. If you’re on your way to work (for example) with friends, you don’t talk about what you’re going to do at work, you just have natural conversations, and that is what this film has in abundance.

The addition of a fourth character towards the end wasn’t needed in some ways and ultimately does make the ending feel somewhat forced and unnatural, but let’s face it, how many endings don’t feel forced these days?


So worth watching then?

Yes, it is. I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be a film that I will revisit on a regular basis. It’s one ofapproved those films that you don’t need to see it a second or third time to be satisfied with it and I would say in terms of a plot, character development and visuals, it is up there with one of the best films I have seen during 2014. I’m probably not going to watch it again, but I feel I don’t need to but I would recommend that you all do.

It is a shame that this film wasn’t widely released at the cinemas as it could have become a modern day classic. It was released in the UK in April 2014, but like most other countries, unless you saw it at a film festival, you weren’t likely to see it at all.

I will keep exploring Dolan’s films as he has a promising future if this is anything to go.