Tom à la ferme, 2013, Xavier Dolan

Tom à la ferme, 2013, Xavier Dolan poster - review



'Another contribution to cinema's French-Canadian wunderkind's undeniable oeuvre '

Young Canadian director Xavier Dolan is obsessed with impossible loves. In J’ai tué ma mère he explored a tumultuous relationship between a mother and her adolescent son. Les amoures imaginaires dealt with two friends (a boy and a girl) who are in love with a man who is interested in neither of them. Three hour epic Laurence Anyways made poignantly clear what happens within a relationship when a (heterosexual) man decides to change his gender. After these three films, which catapulted Dolan as today’s cinemas’ wunderkind, he said he was looking for a new direction. And in many ways Tom à la ferme differs widely from his previous work. It’s a Hitchcockian suspense thriller in the first place. And yet this film is somewhat about an impossible love too; the dramatic aftermath of a love which was kept hidden.

Tom (Xavier Dolan), a young, urban copywriter, travels to the countryside to attend the funeral of his boyfriend, Guillaume. Upon arriving he finds out nobody’s ever heard of him, let alone of their relationship. Bewildered as Tom already is, things get even weirder when Guillaume’s homophobic brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal), the only one who apparently knew about Tom and Guillaume, starts threatening him. Francis wants to avoid at all costs that his mother finds out about her son’s sexual orientation and forces Tom to play along with a story about a girlfriend Guillaume supposedly had. Now Francis isn’t the guy you want to fuck with, as he is both physically intimidating and manipulative as hell. Tom reluctantly plays along, determined to flee as soon as he’s able to. But when that moment comes however, he returns, perversely under Francis’ spell.

As in last year’s L’inconnu du lac, its protagonist is sexually drawn to a dangerous man in a secluded microcosm; a cruising spot and a farm respectively. But where L’inconnu du lac ultimately lacks the required tension for a proper thriller, Tom à la ferme succeeds in getting you at the edge of your seat. Cardinal is brilliantly casted as the aggressive yet seductive Francis; easily one of the most interesting psychopaths I’ve seen on screen in a while. He’s giving you the creeps, but yet it’s not hard to understand why Tom is drawn towards him. It’s often hilarious too; the scene where Tom and Francis dance the tango together in a shed is an instant classic.

Tom à la ferme is Dolan’s most accessible work to date, as it’s more plot driven than its predecessors. Visually it’s not as lush and colorful as what we’re used to, which serves the storyline only better. At the age of twenty-five, Dolan created already an impressive body of work. A cohesive oeuvre so far, as he can’t seem to shake off his obsession for impossible loves.  But who cares?

Tom à la ferme is distributed by MK2 (international sales)