Two lifelong friends, Maxime and Matthias, kiss for a short film that Erika, Matthias’ sister, is making for a university assignment. After sharing that kiss, both of them begin to question their sexuality and those conflicting feelings eventually affect their group of friends and other social ties. After winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2016 for Juste La Fin du Monde, recently-turned-thirty Xavier Dolan returned to la Croisette last spring with his tender and heartfelt Matthias et Maxime.
Once called the “enfant terrible” of Quebec cinema, Dolan now displays a vital maturity by taking a giant step towards sobriety and aesthetic containment. In Matthias et Maxime, he significantly tones down his visual flourish and gives priority to other cinematographic elements closer to the narrative. That said, his latest work still counts with moments of hysteria, anger desire, and unbridled joy like in his earlier films; and his protagonists are overflowing with emotions.
Matthias is played by Gabriel d’Almeida Freitas and Maxime, by Dolan himself. The filmmaker also included a few cinematic references to his own work, namely by giving the role of Maxime’s mother to the great (and ever-present) Anne Dorval. A heads-up for indie cinephiles: the film counts with the luminous presence of Harris Dickinson, the beautiful lead in Eliza Hitman’s Beach Rats (screened at Americana in 2018), a movie for which Dolan previously expressed his devotion.
Matthias et Maxime still bears quintessential Dolan’s cinematic motifs: abundant pop culture references, extreme close-ups of the protagonists and an exquisite soundtrack where even Britney Spears has her place. In other words, Mommy’s director has taken a new path in his film career but without neglecting its essence. An essential film for Dolan’s lovers and haters, for the curious and the neophytes.
2019: Cannes Film Festival
2019: Gijón Film Festival
Runtime: 120 min
Direction: Xavier Dolan
Screenplay: Xavier Dolan
Cinematography: André Turpin
Music: Jean-Michel Blais
Cast: Xavier Dolan, Anne Dorval, Pier-Luc Funk