This psychological thriller from Canada’s endlessly inventive and provocative Xavier Dolan (J'ai tué ma mere, Laurence Anyways) follows a grief-stricken young ad copywriter who visits his dead lover’s parents — only to get drawn into a savage game rooted in the rural family’s dark past.
Tom at the Farm
Despite having only three features under his belt (J'ai tué ma mère, Les Amours imaginaires, and Laurence Anyways, which won Best Canadian Feature at last year's Festival), it's become increasingly clear that Xavier Dolan is Quebec's (indeed Canada's) true cinematic poet of desire. In the process, Dolan has demonstrated an astonishing facility for different modes of filmmaking, navigating his way through many genres. With his latest, the sinister Tom á la ferme, he riffs on the thriller, exploring the darker reaches of desire and attachment.
Tom (Dolan) has travelled to the countryside to attend the funeral of his lover, Guillaume. There he meets Agathe (Lise Roy), Guillaume's mother, who welcomes him despite the fact that they've never met and he's just let himself in. Later that evening, Tom is confronted by Guillaume's older brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal). Francis is a monstrous embodiment of rural machismo — and ferociously repressed — and his behaviour is so far outside propriety he's even shunned by other homophobes. (Rounding out the cast is 2013 TIFF Rising Star Evelyne Brochu as Sara, Tom's lone confidante and lifeline.) Gradually, it becomes clear to Tom that Francis may not let him leave.
Elevating the old horror set-up where a
loved one's family turns out to be completely
deranged (see: Die! Die! My Darling), Dolan
invests it with more weight and resonance
than ever. En route, he takes a blowtorch
to one of the more prevalent tropes in
Quebecois cinema, one that dates back to
Les Raquetteurs and Le Chat dans le sac,
where country sojourns reconnect people
with their true roots. The roots here aren't
ones you want to dig up. What emerges is
a story of loss and longing that reminds us
how lethal desire can be.