Some movies want to wear you down—an approach that seems logical for, say, a World War II tank picture like Fury. It’s not so obvious why Xavier Dolan’s award-winning Mommy seeks the same effect. This 139-minute domestic drama is a tornado of emotional (and sometimes physical) fury, with occasional joys sprinkled throughout. But man, is it a chore to watch. Dolan, a 25-year-old French-Canadian filmmaker, burns through ideas and situations with the urgency of youth, a blazing rush that creates a sometimes-exciting mess.
Much of the film’s fire comes from a teenager, Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), who suffers from extreme ADHD and acts out in violent ways. He’s home with his single mother, Diane (Anne Dorval), who can’t handle him—no one could.