Tom à la Ferme, 2013 – Xavier Dolan
I feel robbed; and it’s Xavier Dolan’s fault. He is the one to blame. He stole my soul, he stripped my mind of ideas, he stole my attention to the world around, and, not less significantly, my blonde hair. In fact, I have just been to the cinema after quite a long time that I didn’t go for diverse reasons. The point is, Xavier Dolan’s last motion picture is what I call Cinema with the capital ‘C’. This is not just to say that Tom à la Ferme (Tom at the Farm for us) is a brilliant art work from one of the most talented living directors, but to underscore its importance in an industry stricken by a profound lack of ideas, a mental incompetency on discovering and treating feelings and narratives. I wish I was a disciple of Xavier, or maybe I already am.
This is the story of the same Tom of the title, as always wonderfully played by director Xavier Dolan. A young editor of an advertising company who has recently lost his boyfriend and lover, and thus struck by the terror and grief of a loss that will never recover inside. Tom is to visit his boyfriend’s family who lives in a farm by the countryside for the funeral, where he discovers no one knows who he is. It is a trip that will dazzle and anguish us until the very last second of the film. This is because Tom encounter with Francis, the lover’s brother and profoundly disturbed guy, will do everything to protect the family’s name and the mother’s already grieving status by playing a dangerous and twisting game. His mental disruption will make Tom have a very, very hard time during his permanence at the Farm, and above all, make us viewers grieve and enrage. Tom is threatened, his feelings are squashed, his mind is twisted and he seems to lose control of his own thoughts. He is indirectly discriminated for his sexuality and his humanity is the toy Francis likes to play with.
As you can imagine, this is a powerful narrative that opens as many doors for thought as you one’s creativeness can. Dolan’s mastery of the camera is stunning and compelling if compared to the other masterpieces he forged in recent years. Between his remarkable works I would mention Les Amour Imaginaires (2010) and J’ai tué ma mère (2009), movies that will linger on you for a remarkable (not to say impressive) bunch of years. His works are characterized by deep insights of his characters and their powerful impact on the audience. In fact, we relate to his characters in somewhat ways, and it is not that easy to achieve as one can think. Xavie Dolan envisions stories that are difficult to find nowadays because of the space they leave for imagination and inspiration. The works just mentioned above shows a peculiar use of cinematographic trappings such as lightening and music, because they accomplish a dream-like atmosphere still depicting factual events and characters who are as human as we are. We are unable to distinguish reality from fiction and, consequently, we are profoundly disappointed by the end of the movie. In Tom at the Farm we are presented many stills and long shots that directly bring us inside the characters’ mind and we find ourselves plunged within a turmoil of feelings. Tom himself becomes our friend, his soul and the loss of his boyfriend becomes ours. The pain added by Francis make us suffer and shrivel on the seat.
Tom at the Farm is a masterpiece of cinema that I would suggest to anyone with a hint of interest in this art form and I swear, this one will just entice you to the point that you can’t stop thinking about Tom and the Farm he unluckily happens to visit. Moreover, it is important to underline the impact the strong visualization of certain images would spur certain close-minded people to re-evaluate bigot visions of the world. I am confident that lots of people would accept more a character like Francis, unstable, aggressive and psychopathic, rather than someone like Tom, homosexual and grieving for the loss of his beloved. The difference I see is that one of them is a human being who suffers and accept life for what it is, the other languishes and tortures for the sake of fulfilling his mental disruption, insane and obsessed. It’s up to you to decide who belongs to what category. Definitely a Movie to watch.