Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm) (2013)

Director: Xavier Dolan
Writers:  Xavier Dolan, Michel Marc Bouchard
Cast:       Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Lisa Roy, Evelyne Brochu
Language: French


A young man (Xavier Dolan) travels to an isolated farm for his lover's funeral where he's quickly drawn into a twisted, sexually charged game by his lover's aggressive farmer brother (Pierre-Yves Cardinal). He learns that his lover's homosexuality is not known to the mother and the brother forces him to behave like a normal friend of her son in front of her. He also learns that the brother had also invented a girl-friend for his brother to please his mother and he is trying his level best to keep the facade going. As we progress in the film, we are not sure who is really the aggressor in this equation and more and more things are revealed about the household and the pariah status it enjoys within the community.

The film is adapted from a play by Michel Marc Bouchard, who also helped in writing the screenplay, and this is a sort of departure for Xavier Dolan who had made films out of his own original output up till this one. It is a film that you can get easily disappointed with if you try to pin it down to a particular genre. I had read some review headline which described it as a horror flick and the director also do some bits in it to class it as such. But I found it to be more of a mystery film with a heavy dose of black humor to it. I enjoyed it thoroughly and you will also do the same as long as you don't insist on it adhering to some genre conventions. It doesn't try to overly explain itself and you are free to interpret it any which way you want. The brother character turns out to be really endearing from my POV and his life must have been a really difficult one with his aggressive nature being a bi-product of his own ambiguous sexuality. 

Prior to this, I had only seen 'Mommy' from Dolan's filmography. It id difficult to believe that he is just 26 years old now. It seems some of the mixed reactions that his films get from critics is to do with them being conscious about his age. 'Tom At The Farm' was screened in the main competition section at the Venice Film Festival where it won the 'FIPRESCI' prize (Enterprising film-making). It is in French, like 'Mommy', as it is set in French speaking Quebec region of Canada. Dolan had cited Haneke's 'Funny Games' and 'Piano Teacher' as his favorites and you can see shades of those films in this one. I guess the best way to describe the film would be to something like that as well.

Rating: 5/5