Mommy (2014 film)


Film poster
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Produced by
Written by Xavier Dolan
Music by Noia
Cinematography André Turpin
Edited by Xavier Dolan
Distributed by Les Films Séville
Release dates
  • 22 May 2014 (2014-05-22) (Cannes)
  • 19 September 2014 (2014-09-19) (Canada)
Running time
138 minutes[1]
Country Canada
Language French
Budget $4.9 million[2]
Box office $13.1 million[3]

Mommy is a 2014 Canadian drama film directed by Xavier Dolan and starring Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clément. The story concerns a mother with a sometimes-violent teenage son, struggling to control his behaviour in a hypothetical future in which parents have the legal option to commit troubled youth to public hospitals. The story continues Dolan's themes in mother-son relationships in his films, and is shot in an unconventional aspect ratio.

The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. It became a financial and critical success. Mommy went on to win numerous other awards, among them nine Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture.


In a fictional outcome for the Canadian federal election, 2015, a political party comes to power and establishes a law called S-14, allowing parents of troubled children and limited finances to place their children in hospitals, without regard for fundamental justice. After the law is passed, Diane "Die" Després, a widowed mother and 46-year-old journalist, picks up her son Steve, who has ADHD with violent tendencies, from an institution. Steve has started a fire at the institution, in which another youth was injured. Die brings Steve home, and struggles to care for him under financial distress. He gives her jewelry reading "Mommy," which she suspects he has stolen. Enraged by the accusation, Steve begins choking her, and she defends herself by hitting him with a glass frame. Kyla, a neighbour and teacher on sabbatical, shows up to tend to their wounds.

Although the three begin to bond, Die is served papers indicating she and Steve are being sued for the injuries caused by his fire. Die finds a lawyer willing to help them, but Steve drives him away due to what he perceives as the lawyer's sexual interest in Die. Overwhelmed, Die attempts to commit Steve to a hospital. She regrets the decision when she sees the officials use violence and tasers to subdue Steve, but there is nothing she can legally do. Kyla moves to Toronto while Die attempts to regain custody of her son. Immediately after being unstrapped by hospital officials, Steve flees.




Director Xavier Dolan wrote the screenplay and chose an unconventional aspect ratio for the film.

Director Xavier Dolan wrote the screenplay, though he said at the time he had never known a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or the same behavioural disorders that the character Steve exhibits.[4] However, Dolan said his own mother is an inspiration to his writing.[5]

With Dolan acknowledging mother-son relationships have always been an underlying theme in his work, the specific idea for Mommy came about after directing Antoine-Olivier Pilon in the music video for "College Boy" by Indochine, finding him to be a great actor.[6] Inspired by another song, "Experience" by Ludovico Einaudi, he wrote a scene about a mother fantasizing about a future with her son that will never come to be, and wrote a story around it. Dolan stated it was important to show how unpredictable mental illness can be in a home.[6] The concept of the S-14 law was inspired by an article he had read about a mother who used a law to transfer custody of a child to the state, although in an interview with Le Devoir, Dolan could not recall which country this happened in.[7]


Mommy was filmed in Longueuil, Quebec.[8] Dolan said that when filming, the actors and crew were often rewriting their lines.[9] In casting actresses Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément, who Dolan had worked with before, he assigned them roles that he felt were the opposite of what each had previously played.[7]

The film was shot with a handheld camera,[4] in a 1:1 aspect ratio, although most modern films are shot in 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratios. On the unusual aspect ratio, Xavier Dolan said, "I know a lot of people are saying, 'Oh, 1:1, how pretentious.' But for me, it seems a more humble and private format, a little more fitting to these lives we're diving into. Cinemascope [2.35:1] would have been extremely pretentious and incompatible for Mommy. To try to get in that apartment and film these people in that aspect ratio would have been unseemly."[10] He also said cinematographer André Turpin had long wanted to experiment with the format.[11] Dolan denied the ratio was meant to invoke the website Instagram, emphasizing this is the original aspect ratio in film history.[12]


The film premiered on 22 May 2014, at the Cannes Film Festival, concluding with a 13-minute standing ovation.[13] The film opened in Montreal on September 8,[8] and in Toronto on October 3.[14] In France, the film was distributed by Diaphana Films, with associate company agnès b. selling Mommy necklaces to promote the film.[15] The film's U.S. distributor Roadside Attraction waited until 2015 for its release.[15]

The film became available on the U.K. Netflix in 2016, with Dolan publicly criticizing the company for altering the unconventional aspect ratio and demanding, "Take it as it is, or remove it."[16] Netflix corrected the ratio hours later.[17]


Box office

On its opening weekend in Quebec, the film made $471,902.[15] Mommy was Dolan's first film to achieve success at the box office, grossing over $3.5 million domestically in 2014, becoming the highest-selling film in Quebec for 2014.[18] In Canada alone, it reached the $2 million gross on October 16.[15]

According to the Montreal Gazette, over one million people went to see the film in France.[18] The film ended its run on March 19, 2015 after making $3.5 million in North America and $9.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $13.1 million.[3]

Critical reception

Anne Dorval received positive reviews for her performance and won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 89% "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 115 reviews, with an average score of 7.9/10; the site's consensus states: "As challenging as it is rewarding, Mommy finds writer-director Xavier Dolan taking another impressive step forward."[19] On Metacritic, the film holds an average score of 74, based on 34 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews" in accordance with the website's standards.[20]

In Canada, David Berry of the National Post gave the film four stars, writing, "As a movie, Mommy is a very similar thing to its namesake jewellery, a flashy, scary, gorgeous little piece of home, a shiny bauble that still manages to hang very close to the heart."[21] Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette gave it five out of five stars, calling it "the absurdly prolific young auteur’s best film yet" and "an ode to the strength of tough working-class single mothers everywhere," and praising Anne Dorval as "extraordinary."[22] Brian D. Johnson of Maclean's credited Dorval for an award-worthy "powerhouse performance." Johnson saw Mommy as more mature than Dolan's previous I Killed My Mother, writing "the tables are turned" in writing the film from the mother's perspective.[23] Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film four stars, saying its smartphone-style picture made it timely and concluding it was "one of the best movies of the year, period."[24] Liam Lacey at The Globe and Mail gave the film three stars, calling the introductory information about S-14 "clumsy," but added "What makes the flaws forgivable is Dolan’s love of his characters."[25]

On 21 May 2014, Mommy received a four-star rating from The Guardian reviewer Peter Bradshaw, who described the film as "a splashy, transgressive treat, from trailer-trash chat to unexpected sex and surprising emotional depth".[26] Following Dolan's receipt of the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Guardian writer Xan Brooks introduced the film as "a boisterous Oedipal comedy".[27] Peter Debruge of Variety called it "A funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work."[28] Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times wrote the film "feels like nothing less than Dolan's magnum opus, for the time being at least."[12] Sandra Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that while she initially found there was "too much noise, too many emotional eruptions and too many tone-deaf subtitles," she found Pilon and Dorval's performances to be "remarkable."[29] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three and a half stars, calling it rattling.[30] The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern, while finding the acting "powerful," found fault in the aspect ratio.[31] Richard Brody of The New Yorker panned the film, saying the depiction of Steve "has no basis in psychology; rather, it appears as Dolan’s own pseudo-transgressive artistic tantrum."[32]


The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[33] where it won the Jury Prize.[34] The film won nine Canadian Screen Awards at the 3rd Canadian Screen Awards in 2015, including Best Motion Picture[35] and ten Jutra Awards at the 17th Jutra Awards, including Best Film. It was also Best Foreign Film at the 40th César Awards.

Mommy was selected as the Canadian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.[36][37]

The film was included in the list of "Canada's Top Ten" feature films of 2014, selected by a panel of filmmakers and industry professionals organized by TIFF.[38][39]

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
Camerimage[40] Bronze Frog for Best Cinematography André Turpin Won
3rd Canadian Screen Awards[41] Best Motion Picture Xavier Dolan and Nancy Grant Won
Achievement in Art Direction / Production Design Colombe Raby Nominated
Achievement in Costume Design Xavier Dolan Nominated
Achievement in Cinematography André Turpin Won
Achievement in Direction Xavier Dolan Won
Achievement in Editing Xavier Dolan Won
Achievement in Make-Up Maina Militza Won
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Antoine Olivier Pilon Won
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Anne Dorval Won
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Suzanne Clément Won
Achievement in Overall Sound Sylvain Brassard, Jocelyn Caron, François Grenon and Luc Landry Nominated
Achievement in Sound Editing Sylvain Brassard, Benoît Dame, Isabelle Favreau and Guy Francoeur Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Xavier Dolan Won
2014 Cannes Film Festival Prix du Jury Xavier Dolan Won
Palme d'Or Nominated
40th César Awards[42] Best Foreign Film Mommy Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2014[43] Best Foreign Language Film Mommy Nominated
David di Donatello Awards[44] Best Foreign Film Xavier Dolan Nominated
Dorian Awards[45] Best Foreign Language Film Mommy Won
Wilde Artist of the Year Xavier Dolan Nominated
Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur[46] Best Actor Antoine-Olivier Pilon Won
Best Actress Anne Dorval
Suzanne Clément
Best Cinematography André Turpin Won
30th Independent Spirit Awards[47] Best Foreign Film Mommy Nominated
17th Jutra Awards[48] Best Film Metafilms – Nancy Grant Won
Best Director Xavier Dolan Won
Best Actor Antoine Olivier Pilon Won
Best Actress Anne Dorval Won
Best Supporting Actress Suzanne Clément Won
Best Screenplay Xavier Dolan Won
Best Art Direction Colombe Raby Nominated
Best Costume Design Xavier Dolan Nominated
Best Cinematography André Turpin Won
Best Editing Xavier Dolan Won
Most Successful Film outside Quebec Mommy Won
Billet d'or Cineplex Mommy Won
20th Lumières Awards[49] Best French-Language Film Mommy Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards[50] Best Picture Mommy Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Mommy Nominated
Best Actress Anne Dorval Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Suzanne Clément Nominated
19th Satellite Awards[51] Best Actress in a Motion Picture Anne Dorval Nominated
Best International Film Mommy Nominated
Breakthrough Performance Award Antoine-Olivier Pilon Won
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival[52] Best North American Independent Film Mommy Won
Toronto Film Critics Association[53] Best Canadian Film Xavier Dolan Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards[54] Best Canadian Film Mommy Nominated
Best Director of a Canadian Film Xavier Dolan Nominated
Best Actor in a Canadian Film Antoine-Olivier Pilon Won
Best Actress in a Canadian Film Anne Dorval Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Canadian Film Suzanne Clément Won
Best Screenplay for a Canadian Film Xavier Dolan Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film Mommy Nominated

See also


  1. "Mommy (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  2. Daudens, Florent; Niosi, Laurence (26 May 2014). "Mommy et les autres : combien coûte un prix à Cannes?".
  3. 1 2 "Mommy (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  4. 1 2 Seymour, Tom (10 March 2015). "Xavier Dolan: 'I just want to express myself – like Madonna'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  5. Szklarski, Cassandra (1 March 2015). "Xavier Dolan's Mommy wins best picture at Canadian Screen Awards". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  6. 1 2 Slotek, Jim (1 October 2014). "Xavier Dolan revelling in 'Mommy's' success". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  7. 1 2 Lévesque, François (13 September 2014). "La belle famille de Mommy". Le Devoir. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  8. 1 2 Kelly, Jeanette (9 September 2014). "Xavier Dolan brings Mommy back home to Montreal". CBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  9. Lattanzio, Ryan (19 January 2015). "Xavier Dolan Gets Real, Reveals 'Mommy' Oscar Jitters, 'Tom at the Farm' Whereabouts and More". IndieWire. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  10. O'Falt, Chris (January 8, 2015). "Why Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' Was Shot as a Perfect Square". The Hollywood Reporter.
  11. Tremblay, Odile (23 May 2014). "Le cas Mommy". Le Devoir. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  12. 1 2 Olsen, Mark (17 January 2015). "In 'Mommy,' Xavier Dolan looks things in the eye". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  13. "Festival de Cannes: Xavier Dolan a eu droit à une ovation qui vous donnera des frissons". Le Huffington Post (in French). 25 May 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  14. The Canadian Press (19 September 2014). "Xavier Dolan's Mommy tapped for possible Oscar contention". CBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  15. 1 2 3 4 Ernst, Thom (9 December 2014). "Director of the Year, French-language film: Xavier Dolan". Playback. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  16. Wong, Jessica (4 January 2016). "Xavier Dolan blasts Netflix for altering aspect ratio of drama Mommy". CBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  17. Child, Ben (5 January 2016). "Xavier Dolan triumphs in row with Netflix UK over his film's aspect ratio". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  18. 1 2 Kelly, Brendan (18 November 2014). "Mommy continues its box office dominance". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  19. "Mommy". Rotten Tomatoes. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  20. "Mommy". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  21. Berry, David (3 October 2014). "Mommy, reviewed: Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan hits it out of the park with Oscar-vying fifth film". National Post. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  22. Kelly, Brendan (19 September 2014). "Review: Mommy is Xavier Dolan's dearest movie yet". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  23. Johnson, Brian D. (2 March 2015). "Blown away by Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy'". Maclean's. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  24. Howell, Peter (2 October 2014). "Mommy burns beyond the frame: review". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  25. Lacey, Liam (3 October 2014). "Mommy: A shared history of love, hope and profanity". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  26. Peter Bradshaw (21 May 2014). "Cannes 2014 review: Mommy - dearest work yet from Xavier Dolan". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  27. Xan Brooks (25 May 2014). "Cannes festival ready for shut-eye after Winter Sleep wins Palme d'Or". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  28. Debruge, Peter (21 May 2014). "Film Review: 'Mommy'". Variety. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  29. Hall, Sandra (5 April 2015). "Mommy review: New-look Anne Dorval shines in Xavier Dolan's homage to motherhood". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  30. Travers, Peter (21 January 2015). "Mommy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  31. Morgenstern, Joe (22 January 2015). "'Mommy' Review: A Complex Relationship". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  32. Brody, Richard. "Mommy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  33. "2014 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  34. "Awards 2014 : Competition". Cannes. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  35. "Canadian Screen Awards 2015: Mommy big film winner, Orphan Black takes top TV trophies". CBC News. 1 March 2015.
  36. "Dolan's 'Mommy' Canada's Oscar bid". Brampton Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  37. "Oscars: Canada Picks 'Mommy' For Foreign-Language Category". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  38. "TIFF Tips Its Toque to the Best in Canadian Filmmaking: Cronenberg, Dolan, and Gunnarson Among Directors Recognized" (PDF) (Press release). TIFF. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  39. Linda Barnard (1 December 2014). "TIFF's Top Ten Film Festival: Spotlight on Canadian film". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  40. "'Leviathan' Wins Top Prize at Camerimage, Film Festival for Cinematographers". Variety. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  41. "2015 CANADIAN SCREEN AWARDS Feature Film Nominations" (PDF). January 13, 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  42. "César 2015 : les nominations". AlloCiné. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  43. ""Birdman" Leads 2014 CFCA Nominations". CFCA. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  44. Anderson, Ariston (12 June 2015). "'Birdman' Wins Italy's David Di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Picture". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  45. Kennedy, John R. (20 January 2015). "Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' wins Dorian Award". Global News. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  46. "Le 29ème Palmarès!". FIFF. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  47. "'Birdman' Tops Spirit Awards Nominations (Full List)". Variety. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  49. "France's Lumiere Awards Nominations Unveiled". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  50. "'Boyhood,' 'Grand Budapest' lead with 2014 online film critics nominations 9". HitFix. Retrieved 8 Dec 2014.
  51. Bélanger, Cédric (10 February 2015). "Antoine Olivier Pilon honoré à Hollywood". Le Journal de Montréal. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  52. "Lucifer wins the Black Nights Grand Prix". Cineuropa. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  53. "Denis Villeneuve's Enemy is Toronto Film Critics' top Canadian pick". CBC News. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  54. "'Birdman' and 'Mommy' lead Vancouver Film Critics Circle nominations". HitFix. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.

External links

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