Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm)

Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Starring Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal
In UK Cinemas April 4th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Last year, Xavier Dolan directed one of my favourite films of recent – Laurence Anyways. His follow up one year later is Tom à la ferme – an ambient rural thriller which sees star Dolan as Tom, who is held emotionally, and somewhat physically captive on the farm of his dead boyfriend’s family.  The audience is  held captive alongside Tom as this film is gripping yet frustrating, and can also stray into dangerous unempathetic territory.

This film plays out with tension and genuine engagement with the characters, notably Tom. Xavier is so captivating as an actor and director, he cannot help but eminate talent as the nearly teenage prodigy that he is. At age 24, Tom à la ferme is his fourth film and he is already an award winning talent and top director to come out of the thriving French-Canadian film scene.

Tom à la ferme does not triumph in spite of Dolan’s blatant talent and engaging method of story-telling. There are some character flaws so great that the audience cannot quite understand their motives, which can often break the cinematic illusion and lead to comedic moments intended as drama.  Dolan’s signature style prevails with his flair for painting visual pictures and soundtracks likened to watching the most beautiful and epic of music videos. He interweaves thematic subtleties into his films that only a fine tooth comb could overtly access.  For instance, the ferme (farm) address is number 69, but not in a sexual manner – it represents the two parallel characters of Tom and Francis dealing with their grief in both unison and opposite forms – one through sadness, one through rage.

Dolan is a talent to watch. At the top of his game, yet still on the rise. Tom à la ferme is merely a small bump in the road of his career and he will no doubt find his way off of the farm and back to the city.

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