Tom à la Ferme is the first feature of young director Xavier Dolan I succeeded in finding good. Even though like the first three movies, it left me with a bizarre feeling or deep disturbance.
His characters somehow, scare me because of their rapid transformations, or should I say inner disfiguration, supported by calm, passive behaviors.
Tom (Xavier Dolan) is a young boy with a marginal style, and just lost someone, who we’ll understand was his lover, Guillaume. And thus, Tom goes into the family farm for the funeral, where lives the mother Agathe (Lise Roy), and the handsome brother, Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal).
Of course he has to pretend to be a colleague of Guillaume, but if this lie worked with the mother, it didn’t with Francis, who know who he is and thus threatened him if he said anything upsetting to Agathe.
However Francis does more than that. A stereotyped homophobe, sexy, but violent, sensitive but paranoid, the character’s psychology is the most captivating and interesting thing of the movie. And I believe Tom à la Ferme is really about Francis. The man who always protected brother and mother, until the end.
His relationship with Tom explored in the movie, reflected a deep trauma and distorted psychology.
Tom is a kind of cobaye Francis wants to experiment on. He hates him because he represents a cause to Guillaume’s death and also reminds him of his brother marginal sexual orientation. But on the other hand is kind of fascinated, because he wants to understand what Guillaume found in this boy, and because Agathe always preferred her younger son. He managed through getting Tom’s love or admiration, prove that he was better or at least as good as his deceased brother.
Between ambiguous sexual relationship that we feel happens beside the screen and a sad masochistic game, Dolan’s film flutters around tricky human behaviors.
What is beautiful in Tom à la Ferme is the two parallel issues tackled; the mourn of a mother who lost her son and the awful reality of him coming off the others. Coming from his entourage who knew who Guillaume was. Even though Francis wants to protect his mother from the truth of his brother being a libertin, at some point, Agathe will reach a climax of incomprehension. How to construct fully the image of a beloved one, who you didn’t see for years, based only on what we report to you?
The only element I would reproached to the director, is the use of ellipses concerning Tom’s development as the relationship, bouncing from tender to violence, became recurrent, or even quotidian.
Anyway, this negative point, is more than offset by the actors’ performances, that are very convincing, especially, Lise Roy who’s just breathtaking.
In a nutshell, Tom à la Ferme reminded me a little of early Haneke‘s work, and explored new outcomes to Stockholm syndrome relationship and it conquered me.