In the summer of 2016, I sat in my bedroom in the dark and I put on Xavier Dolan’s film, Mommy, for the first time. I had recently seen J’ai tué ma mère after a recommendation from a friend a few months before, and because of sheer curiosity, and being so proud to see such a successful young Canadian, I decided to give his other films a shot.
I know it sounds over dramatic to say Mommy changed my life, but it truly did. For the first time, I saw and appreciated the beauty and emotion that film is capable of portraying. Xavier Dolan was able to show me everything movies could be and more. I would definitely attribute this movie for being the kick-starter to my current love of film, and for that, I am forever grateful to Xavier Dolan.
Having a favorite movie, TV show, book etc. is one of the most comforting feelings in the world to me. I know these things are accessible to me whenever I need to experience them again. When I am stressed or anxious I know I can put Brooklyn Nine-Nine on my TV, pick up my favorite book, or put on Mommy to remind myself why I love movies and lose myself in the world of this film.
A few months after this first viewing of Mommy, I was incredibly lucky to be able to see it in a theater for the first time in February of 2017 at TIFF during the ‘Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival’. This experience was something I will never forget. There are a handful of movie-going experiences I have had that stick out in my mind, and whether or not I still love those movies as much as I did then, the feelings and memories that came out of those experiences will never go away. Seeing Mommy was one of those experiences.
I remember sitting in the tiny theater as it ended and feeling like nothing else existed except for the black screen with the credits rolling and the Lana Del Rey song Born to Die was playing. I was completely in the moment, in awe of what I had just experienced, and it wasn’t even the first time I had seen the film. There was something so powerful to me about seeing that movie on the big screen, that even though I was still homesick, I was able to experience a little piece of home in that theater in those 2 1/2 hours.
Speaking of experience, it would feel weird not to mention one of my favorite aspects of this film, Ludovico Einaudi’s song ‘Experience‘. This track plays during one of, if not THE, most emotional moment of the film, and is the scene that I often go back to and re-watch over and over. This song hits me hard every single time I hear it, it is such a perfect memory of this movie, and hearing it live at one of Einaudi’s shows was a highlight of my life. Dolan was able to weave this piece of musical artistry into such a striking, heart-wrenching scene in the most impressive way possible. The fact that I can have such an intense reaction to just one song no matter where or when I hear it shows true talent on Dolan’s part.
Simply put, Mommy changed the way I perceived film. I realized how powerful film was, and how I could never live my life without it. Whether it’s watching a horrible horror movie just for the laughs with a group of friends, or seeing yourself represented on the screen, there are so many amazing ways to love and appreciate film. The best part is we all get to decide for ourselves how we want to enjoy it. For me, I will continue to watch my guilty pleasure movies and shows, including a few episodes of iCarly here and there, but I will always go back to Mommy, whether it be to relieve some of my favorite movie-watching experiences or to watch it with a fresh perspective after some life changes. There is no limit on the number of ways I can appreciate this film and how it can affect me.
I would hope that everyone has something, whether it’s a show, movie, book or something else, that makes them feel the same way Mommy does for me, and I can’t wait until the day I relive this feeling again with a different movie.
I could only dream of someday meeting or speaking to Xavier Dolan to any extent, but I just want to put out into the world a big thank you to him for the work he did on this film, and his other films. I will continue to fall in love with his gorgeous shots, stories, and characters until the day I die. So thank you to Xavier Dolan and all the amazing people who made this film what it is.