While Xavier Dolan’s recent Mommy divided otherwise reasonable people into two camps — those who considered it a masterpiece versus those who viewed it as cinematic waterboarding — his new Tom at the Farm (which was actually shot before Mommy) might allow the factions to peaceably agree that Dolan is capable of making not only a genre film, but one that clocks in under two hours, even with his usual languid pace.
Shaggy blond twink Tom (Dolan) travels to his deceased lover Guillaume’s family farm in deepest Canada to pay his respects, only to learn that Guillaume’s mother, Agathe (Lise Roy), and hunky brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) didn’t know Guillaume was queer, and don’t want to know — though the aggressively no-homo Francis has designs on Tom.
That the most vicious homophobes are often closet cases is not news, but Dolan seems less concerned with that self-evident fact and more about creating a mood of unease as Tom falls under Francis’s brutal spell. It’s beautifully photographed, with the 1.85:1 aspect ratio allowing the rural mise en scène to be as open as Mommy‘s 1.33:1 was oppressive, before briefly changing to 2.35:1 at the end, right around the time the film takes an unexpected political turn.
And if nothing else, we should appreciate this respite before Dolan’s next three-hour endurance test.
Tom at the Farm
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Opens August 14, Village East Cinema