Xavier Dolan’s ‘Matthias Et Maxime’ Sparks A Magnetic Love Story [Cannes Review]

The Playlist | 5/23/2019 | Caroline Tsai
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“Matthias and Maxime” ticks almost every checkbox of a Xavier Dolan movie: Canadian slang, which often takes the form of idiomatic English; plentiful shouting and stylized aesthetic flourishes set to synth-heavy soundtrack backing.

But perhaps truest to Dolan’s form, the film, is a story of a complicated, evolving male friendship and sexual relationship between two friends. One night while hanging out with friends, Maxime (Dolan himself, with a teardrop-shaped birthmark cascading from his right eye) and his childhood friend Matthias (Gabriel D’Almeida Fritas) are dared to star in a short film by a friend’s bratty younger sister, which she defines as an “impressionist but expressionist” rumination on “who really knows.” But when they realize the film involves a kissing scene — a moment that Dolan cleverly elides with a quick jump-cut — a once-latent dimension of their friendship is opened again in myriad uncomfortable ways.

Problems - Poor - Maxime - Mother - Addiction

And after all, they both have their own problems to deal with. Poor Maxime is busy caring for his cantankerous mother, recovering from addiction, who clearly prefers Maxime’s older brother. Meanwhile, Matthias has a new career in a law firm and a girlfriend, to whom he complains that “at a certain point, you outgrow the jokes and the songs.” But with the countdown to Maxime’s impending departure to a two-year stint in Australia steadily ticking down, the pressure between the men to acknowledge the emotional distance between them before a geographic one does first, mounts with every passing day.

Premiering in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, “Matthias and Maxime” finds Dolan, now 30, trying to shake off the enfant terrible label with a story about the ways we’re still painfully tethered to the people we tell ourselves we’ve outgrown. No matter how desperately Matthias tries to shed immature adolescence for careerism, and no matter how Maxime yearns...
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