19th October 2020

Matthias & Maxime(Mubi India)

Starring Xavier Dolan as Maxime,Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas as Matthias

Directed  by Xaviar Dolan

Rating: **

If  you have followed  the fascinating  chequered and  prolific  cinema of   the young Canadian actor-director  Xaviar Dolan you would know two things about him: he is gay and he has serious  mom issues. Both the subjects   bubble to the  surface  in  seething welters  of repressed rage in his  latest  work .

Matthias and Maxime is as fiercely original and as exasperatingly typical  of  the  actor-director as  the rest of his work. He not only plays the  confounded  unhappy Mathias, Xaviar Dolan also directs a film that is so  inured in deflections that these(the deflections) transmute themselves into reflections on life’s often-bewildering happenstance.

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What we gather in the  first  outbreak of  narrative flourish(laconic,  meandering, dialogue-driven and  unheedful of authority) is that Maxime and Matthias(Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas)  have been  friends  forever, and yes, there  is a  lot of sexual tension between them  which Mathias  refuses to address  but Maxime is  quite comfortable with.

This is  very familiar territory in gay cinema. Xaviar  Dolan gives us no reason to believe  there would be any big revelations  about the  subject. The narrative coasts confidently  along  its  uneasy course,travelling the  ragged territory of  rejection, resignation   rage and acceptance. The  triggering point is  a kiss that the two friends share for a film being made  by a friend  of theirs.

It isn’t clear why  Matthias  would  share a kiss on  camera  with the person whose presence torments him in ways that he would rather not  think of.A  large part of the  film has the  group of friends bantering, arguing,partying and playing games.  Some sort of a  conclusive scenario is  expected to emerge  from the crackling chaos. But it never quite makes  it to the screen.

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I’d rate this as  one of Xaviar Dolan’s weaker works.Though  by no means a failure it compares  unfavourably with the raw rage of his directorial debut I  Killed My Mother  and the casual angst of Mommy.This own too has its  passages of lyrical beauty.  Mathias’  encounters with an enigmatic business associate(Harris Dickinson) are  filled with unexpressed longing as two  men , both outwardly straight, seem to be telling one  another something that  neither  is prepared to  hear.

The audience too is made to feel uneasy in the  presence of  emotions that Dolan yanks out of the  closet, though he is not always  sure of what he wants  to do with them.

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