#REVIEW: “MATTHIAS & MAXIME”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
I make no secrets of my admiration and borderline obsession with the works of Quebec’s auteur, Xavier Dolan. As an actor, he is charismatic and hypnotic even in movies he did not direct (check out his stellar work in “Boy Erased”). As a Writer/Director, Dolan’s movies are unique, visually spellbinding and impossible to forget. There may have been one or two missteps in his career, but which Director can say, with any honesty, that they may have overshot but learned from the experience. After the intense critical drubbing he received in response to his last feature, I am genuinely happy to report that Dolan is back on track with his latest; the sublime MATTHIAS & MAXIME. Not only does he explore and re-image themes from his previous movies, such as sexual identity and mother-issues, this has to be his most romantic and less-flashy movie to date. And it all starts with a kiss.
Along with a group of boisterous friends at a cottage somewhere in the heart of Quebec, long time Besties Maxime (played by Dolan) and Matthias (played to perfection by Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas) finally agree to star in one of their friends annoying younger sister, and aspiring Filmmaker, to star in one of her short films that culminates with the 2 of them sharing a kiss. Much like network television shows of the past, we actually never see the kiss, but what we see the repercussions of it afterwards. Maxime is about to move to Australia, leaving behind the comforts of friends but, most importantly, a recovering drug-addicted mother (played with venom and ferocity by Anne Dorval). Matthias is on the road to success at the law firm he works at. Since the kiss, their relationship had been strained which has not gone unnoticed by their group of friends. In fact, it is Matthias’ girlfriend who convinces him to go to Maxime’s bon voyage party, where pivotal events occur.
There are so many elements in MATTHIAS & MAXIME that I truly loved. Whenever the two lead characters were with their group of friends, the screen was aglow with energy. These Quebecois frat boys, with Pier-Luc Funk giving a stand-out performance, were not only blasphemously-vile, their non-stop chatter was equally intelligent (how many movies have you seen that mention Oscar winner, Denys Arcand, not once but twice?) and reminded me of the best of Aaron Sorkin. Comedy at its most profane and wicked! Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats and the soon-to-be-released Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) impresses in the small role of a bigwig from Toronto that Matthias has to entertain. Dolan had toned-down his bag of visual tricks and sometimes stylish excesses but instead focused often on the faces of the characters. MATTHIAS & MAXIME is glorious to behold. What I loved most was the movie’s tenderness and compassion. It is a sweeping, understated romantic film that highlights Xavier Dolan’s prodigious talents. It’s a must-see.
eOne Films release MATTHIAS & MAXIME Wednesday, October 9, 2019.