‘Mommy’ is a comedy-drama about three individuals who despite all the odds are trying their best to support each other. Directed by the Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan, Mommy is a far cry from what you would expect from a 26-year old filmmaker. Dolan is known for being a daring auteur who doesn’t believe in conventions; just like his previous films ‘Laurence Anyways’ and ‘Heartbeats’, in ‘Mommy’ we see the three central characters picking up pieces and finding love and support in each other. But only briefly. Dolan’s nuanced understanding of human life, of how no one really knows how to figure out things is reflected in the film when these characters are separated and re-exposed to the calamities and hardships of real life.
The film stars Anne Dorval as Diane, a single mother, who decides to home school her sometimes-violent son, Steve (played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon), a teenager living with ADHD. As a single parent, Diane struggles to provide for her son and is often overwhelmed by his actions. Help arrives when Kyla, an out of job teacher moves in next door with her family. Played by Suzanne Clément, Kyla finds herself disconnected from her husband and daughter, and strangely drawn to Diane and her son Steve. She finds love and friendship in both of them and is willing to help them. Together they form a tiny unit, providing support and experience happiness with each other.
But what stands out the most is Dolan’s effort to talk about a mother’s anxiety. Not all moments between Diane and Steve are filled with compassion. It’s not just Steve’s mental health that overwhelms Diane; she is also put down constantly by her own choices. The film talks about struggles of a single mother and there are moments in which she finds herself helpless. As a viewer you don’t judge Diane for her decisions, you understand her challenges and appreciate her courage to keep it all going, both for herself and Steve.