In the lush, flamboyant and exhilarating Laurence Anyways, Québécois filmmaker Xavier Dolan had magnificently portrayed an incredibly wrenching coming-to-terms with heteronormative gender roles and identities, while in the brash and confrontational Mommy he’d captured an emotionally violent working-class mother-son relationship. A touch of both were palpable in Matthias & Maxime, his heartfelt, sensitive and engrossing exploration of male friendship and latent sexuality, alongwith underlying class commentaries and volatile filial relationship. Set in Montréal, Matthias (Gabriel D'Almeida Freitas) and Maxime (Xavier Dolan) are close childhood friends despite their contrasting socioeconomic backgrounds – Matt belongs to a well-to-do family, has a steady girlfriend and works at an upscale law firm; Max, on the other hand, lives in a grungier neighbourhood, works part-time at a bar and has a turbulent relationship with his ex-addict mother (Anne Dorval); their energetic friend circle, with whom they enjoy lively moments when they hang out, too, is similarly diverse. Their seemingly platonic friendship, however, is rocked by severe self-doubt and melancholy when, during a get-together at a friend’s lavish countryhouse a few days before Max’s planned shift to Australia, the two agree to be part of a student film where they need to share a kiss. While Matt’s tad clichéd behavioral responses and the scenes featuring a cocky Toronto business associate were among its weaker sections, I could ignore them as relatively minor flaws vis-à-vis the deeply heartwarming moments of longing and loneliness that the film is filled with (counterpointed with both gregarious banter and some cheeky self-reflexive humour), Dolan’s stunning turn as the shy and vulnerable Max, and the gorgeous aesthetic palette crafted through luminous photography and a soulful pop-classical background score.
Director: Xavier Dolan
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Buddy Film