Canadian director Xavier Dolan knows the ups and downs of being a child prodigy. His directorial debut “I Killed My Mother”. It was a sensation in 2009. At that time he was just 20. With the transgender tragic comedy “Laurence Anyways” and the declaration of love to his mother “Mommy”, he became the hottest newcomer in international art house cinema – sexy, out and proud and hopelessly self- enamored. The world was at Xavier Dolan’s feet, and he knew it.
He is now over 30 and the boywonder number has worn off a bit. His last two films left even his most loyal fans indifferent. Although he won the Jury Grand Prix in Cannes with the toxic family drama “Simply the End of the World” , his first start production with Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard and Léa Seydoux. “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan”, about a fallen child star, was nothing over a navel gaze of delicate sympathies – and still felt objective.
Dolan recalibrates with “Matthias & Maxime”. The film premiered in Cannes two years ago and was graciously received there. A little wrong, but no bonus is given to a former child prodigy on the Croisette.
His eighth film in eleven years shows all the strengths of his Sturm und Drang phase. Dolan may not be a second Fassbinder, but it is not only in terms of productivity that there are parallels to the brutally intimate, drama queen-like emotional excesses of the German wunderkind.
Not A Classic Coming-Out Film
Dolan never made coming-out films in the classic sense, but deep down, “Matthias & Maxime” is a gay love story. The film also tells the changing ability of boyfriends to male friendships with a lot of humor and drama. Because Matthias (Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas) and Maxime (Dolan, who clearly loves to watch each other through the camera) are friends of the sandpit.
They also slept in the same bed with the gang of boys on weekends and pee in front of each other while the other brushes their teeth. A lost party bet, however, messes up the emotional balance: For the student film of the annoying sister of buddy Rivette (haha!), The two are supposed to kiss. After that, the friendship lost its innocence.
“Matthias & Maxime” deals with a question that Dolan may also ask himself after he fell out of favor with the critics. What meaningful things do you do with your life in your early thirties? The friends have very different ideas: The married Matthias is about to be promoted in his office.
When talking to his boss, however, there are doubts as to whether this career really appeals to him – or whether it is more something that one sensibly decides on at his age. He obviously feels more comfortable in a double denim outfit than in a lawyer uniform with a suit and tie, even if he admits to his wife Sarah (Marilyn Castonguay) that the rituals of his permanently pubescent friends are beginning to bore him.
The Volatile Impulsiveness Of Youth
Maxime, on the other hand, wants to start over. He plans to move to Australia, where a letter of recommendation from Matthias’ father should help him, which seems to stand between the two of the whole film. He also tries to escape the sphere of influence of his alcoholic mother, whom he cares for and who sometimes throws an ashtray at his head in a fit of anger.
That sounds like privileged millennial problems, but Dolan finally manages to give the inner drama a hot-cold outer shape. The mother motif is known; the close-ups on Dolan’s face have also seen many times. This time a huge birthmark adorns the right half of his face: a pretty, vain self-neglect that doesn’t stop the young men on the street and on the bus from turning their heads towards him.
But the old Dolan energy is back, the volatile impulsiveness that was once explained with his youth – which works in the thoughtful, introspective “Matthias & Maxime” but also as a space requirement for completely opposing concepts of life. Dolan really wants to empathize with his characters’ dilemmas, not just act out their contradictions.
But when it comes to music, “Matthias & Maxime” is again shamelessly striking. No director of his generation knows how to find personal drama in a pop song as well as Dolan – whether it is Arcade Fire or Britney Spears. Nobody treats the setbacks in life with so much love – and yet shows his discretion. Dolan furtively cuts away from the kiss that sets the story of “Matthias & Maxime” rolling. How can a film adequately describe the one moment that changes a whole life? A drama queen finally wants to grow up.