Review: Matthias & Maxime
Print Screen Editor Francesca Sylph reviews Xavier Dolan’s new heartfelt and tender film, Matthias & Maxime.
After a disappointing English-language debut, Québécois filmmaker Xavier Dolan returns to his roots with this tender and delicate film about youthful yearning. Matthias & Maxime is a love letter to the auteur’s defining relationships in his life: mothers, brothers and lovers. Dolan finds himself in front of the camera for the first time since Tom at the Farm (2013) as Max: a shy and sensitive bartender who is planning a big move to Melbourne, Australia in an attempt to escape the burden of being the primary caretaker for his abusive mother (Anne Dorval) who also happens to be a recovering addict. Matt (Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas), on the other hand, is much more self-assured, bordering on cocky, focussing on his law career and settling down with his long-term girlfriend. When the two childhood best friends share a kiss for a student short film, repressed emotions and hidden desires are forced to the surface.
Matthias & Maxime is a love letter to the auteur’s defining relationships in his life: mothers, brothers and lovers.
Dolan’s filmmaking is, as always, exuberant and youthful. Pivotal scenes are once again accompanied by iconic pop songs. While it was ‘Wonderwall’ in Mommy, Matthias & Maxime is filled with tunes from Arcade Fire, Pet Shop Boys and Britney Spears. My only grievance with the film stems from Dolan’s treatment of female characters. The women are mostly stock characters and negative stereotypes, mainly existing to be gratingly annoying and ruin the boys’ fun. While this is to be somewhat expected from a film about brotherhood, it is still disappointing since we all know that Dolan does have the ability to create complex and interesting female characters (see Anne Dorval as ‘Die’ in Mommy). Nevertheless, Matthias & Maxime finds the Canadian auteur back in his element: exploring masculinity and sexuality with such tenderness and sensitivity while a sick soundtrack plays in the background.
Matthias & Maxime is now streaming on MUBI.