Tuesday, March 22, 2016

100 reasons why Mommy is my favorite film of all time; Part II

Picking up from where I left off (reasons 1-10), I'll get right into the next batch of ten.

Reason #11

The soundtrack.  We've already heard a few of these tracks by this time in the film, but here we get a glimpse at the tracklist.  I love the idea that all of these songs are from a roadtrip mix made by Steve's late father.  It's such a 'dad' thing to do, and it's something I do whenever the family takes a roadtrip.  I have every mixtape I've ever made for trips in a special CD-case in the car, and I throw one on every once in a while to bask in the memories.  Some of those songs become so ingrained with specific moments, and that is such a beautiful message created by Dolan here.  These songs are so elegantly picked, carrying such weight for key moments that transcend the screen.  Much like the way my personal mixtapes bring me to personal memories, this soundtrack becomes so effortlessly attached to moments within the film that I cannot listen to any of these songs and not see specific scenes (whether it's the car crash or the skateboarding scene or the kitchen dancing).

Reason #12

There is something almost majestic about this particular shot, as if Kyla is bathed in this glorious light, this encroaching gold signifying her eminent effect on Die and Steve.  The fact that this golden hue is coming from a dirty old window is also somewhat telling.

Reason #13

Speaking of Kyla, while it's a simple and almost cliche technique, the pull back from Kyla's daughter into the dark hallway is such a telling moment to Kyla's personal tragedy and inner demons.

Reason #14

Ok, so this whole moment is kind of...crass and when I saw this in the theater, this scene caused a major commotion.  The only other person in the theater with me was an elderly white woman in a wheelchair who had been wheeled in by her black caretaker.  The two women sat together in the front row and when this scene happened the elderly woman lost her mind.  I could see her throwing her arms up and she was audibly upset and her caretaker got up and wheeled her out.  I spent the rest of the movie alone.

I was fine with this.

Anyways, that story and really the scene itself is not my reason, my reason is this exact moment, when the cab driver calls Die a "b*tch" and Steve whips his head around and lunges for him, climbing onto his cab and spitting on his windshield.  The primal instinct to protect the one you love most, even when the cab driver is only saying the same things you say to her face.  "That's MY mother, YOU can't say those things."

It's hypocritical and yet it's what makes us human.

Reason #15

The hyperbole SPILLS from Dolan's work, and it's the part of him that I adore the most, and this subtle splash of hyperbole is such a lovely moment.  Steve is 'kissing away his mother's tears' as she mourns the loss of her job.  It's this exaggerated tenderness that is so warming and such a beautiful touch to their relationship.  Especially when the next move is...

...to literally use force to stop his mother's sobbing.  This is also such a subtle use of 'violent passion', having Steve's attempt at calming his mother be to place his hands over her mouth, invading her personal space to assert himself as the alpha.  While this is, from the solitary look, an aggressive and possibly negative action, his words to her, his kiss, his eyes all speak to a boy who is trying desperately to fill the shoes of his father, her anchor and protector.  He just wants to 'wish' everything all better.

Reason #16

This is my new motto.

Reason #17

Reason #18

I love the whole juxtaposition of this scene, from start to finish, but mostly I love the way that Dolan contrasts Steve's internal emotions through the use of song.  While Colorblind plays over the whole scene, Steve is clearly listening to rap, and his body language is in tune with the music in his hears, that only he can hear, and so he seems out of step with the world around him.  He is swimming in his own world, suffering from a detachment to the outside world that he doesn't fully understand.  I remember reading some YouTube comments (don't ever do that, they are mostly all trash) on this scene stating "this is what I imagine me doing if I was white for an afternoon" and I couldn't help but get defensive over the fact that they clearly didn't GET this moment (but they most likely hadn't even seen the movie, and you need to see the movie to get it).  There are so many layers of character here, so many nuances to discovering WHO Steve is that Dolan and Pilon beautifully compile into this particular scene.

Reason #19

There are a few moments within the film where Steve's flowing shirt gives the impression that Steve is playing dress up, that he's some sort of superhero.  This moment in particular does this rather well, in a way drawing attention to the youthfulness still locked inside Steve.  He's only 15, sure, but he's grappled with such aggressive tendencies and emotions that he often appears older, despite his reckless actions.  But here, we are reminded that Steve is merely a boy, playing dress up, trying to be something he isn't.  It also beautifully conveys the need Steve has to be the hero.  He only wants to save the day, to make things better for his struggling mother, and so here as he races home with gifts he feels like a hero.

Contrast this to the 'fantasy' sequence when we see...

...and we are reminded that no matter how bad things get, his mother also sees him as her hero.

Reason #20

This is it.  This is the moment where our eyes are opened and we see just what Die has gotten herself into.  Until this moment, Steve was nothing more than an obnoxious and disrespectful teenager, but in this moment we realize that it's more than that.  As he presents himself to his mother, the hero of the day, presents in hand and this beautiful token of his love for her...her frustrations and concerns get the better of her and she taints his gift with accusations of thievery that strip him of his hero persona and make him the villain in this story...and he just can't handle that.

And so he loses it.  He loses it in a BIG way.  The reality of Die's reality takes such a tremendous precedence over the scene and the near jovial, dreamlike way in which Dolan approached the scenes preceding is almost stripped away entirely to produce an almost horror film feeling as Steve's emotions take the better of him and he physically attacks his mother, choking her, chasing her, leaving her shaken to the core and, in that moment, afraid for her life.

The way that Die immediately notices she set him off, even before he completely switches, is a reminder to us that she's been here before.  He was in that detention center for a reason.  She willfully brought him home and subjected herself to this for what...?



  1. Another gorgeous post. I can't express how much I love your passion for this movie.

    #14 -- I thought it was a bold move to have Steve spewing racist insults at that unfortunate cab driver. (Talk about a shitty day at work!) It involved a huge risk that viewers would dismiss Steve completely, if they hadn't already, and be unable or unwilling to feel any empathy for him. That's kind of what's great about the movie, though. We realize, clearly, that these are not "nice" people. But they are people with a compelling story and a great capacity for love. (And possibly dealing with more shit in a day than most people face in a lifetime.)

    #17 -- Yup, that's going to be my new motto too. I need that motto SO badly right now. I also see some merchandise in that. What do you think, a T-shirt or a coffee mug? ;-)

  2. UGH, YES to all of these. Like, how can Dolan ever top this masterful film?!

  3. When he has his shirt flying in the wind, he seems the most free, from where he was to, his own mindset that he can't control. His happiness in giving her this gift and suddenly turning to something terrifying...brilliant!