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This French-Canadian film (with English subtitles) won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2014. Steve is a young adolescent who has ADHD (but after seeing the movie you will likely agree that it is something else) who lives with his widowed mother, Diane. At the beginning of the film, the viewer is told that there is a law passed in Canada in 2015 that allows parents to commit their children against their will. We also see that Diane has come to collect Steve from an institution; the officials there refuse to let him stay after he sets a fire and harms a child. A neighbor, who is suffering a trauma of her own, befriends the two. The film presents the intense, explosive and deeply emotional relationship between Diane and her son and the neighbor. The film is fascinating for many reasons – its 80’s style soundtrack and the use of a square rather than an expanded frame are two of them. The square frame is particularly effective when the director examines close-up the faces of the three leads, and it lends a feeling of confinement; this becomes evident in two places in the film when the viewing frame is expanded. The acting is tremendous, particularly by the actors portraying Diane and Steve. The raw and explosive intensity of their performances is mesmerizing and sometimes shocking. Big thumbs up for a film that is sometimes difficult to watch and at other times a thing of sublime beauty. In both cases, the film packs an incredible emotional punch that leaves you spent by the end.

About Gary Burkholder

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