Remedy for rural fantasies
Are you an urban dweller who secretly nourishes a dream about living in the countryside? Do you find the idea of life at a farm, close to crops and animals seem attractive to you, more “real” than the artificial life you lead in the city?
I that case I’ve got a cure for you. Watch Xavier Dolan’s new psychological thriller Tom at the Farm and I think you’ll drop whatever romantic idea you have about how cosy and friendly a rural life will be.
The film begins when Tom (played by the director, who also has produced, written and edited the film, multi-talented as he is) travels to a rural area in Canada to attend the funeral of his boyfriend, Guillame. It turns out that Guillame hasn’t told his family about his homosexuality or about the existence of Tom. It’s only Frances, the brother, who understands what’s going on. And it’s an understatement to say that he’s unhappy about it.
The relationship between Tom and Frances is bad from the start and gets weirder and weirder over the course of the movie. There’s mourning, there’s guilt, there’s a bit of erotic tension and attraction, but most of all there’s a ton of violence and abuse combined with a case of Stockholm Syndrome. And as you watch Tom sinking deeper into his misery, you get more and more frustrated until you reach the boiling point and just want to stand up I the theatre to him: “FFS, GET OUT OF THAT PLACE! “
A darker film
This is quite far away from Xavier Dolan’s last movie, Laurence Anyways. That film too had a serious theme, about a man struggling with his gender identity. But it also contained some beautiful, imaginative shots, such as the butterfly flying out of the mouth of a man or clothes falling from the sky like snow. It gave it a lighter, more playful tone.
There are no such fantasy scenes in Tom at the Farm. We keep getting back to the brown soil, the cows that need to be milked, the corn that cuts you if you try to run through it, the loneliness at the table in the kitchen. Darkness, rain, guilt, violence and aggression – openly displayed or luring under the surface. No dreams. No love. And not a lot of hope.
I liked this film quite a bit. It left me exhausted (watching a lot of aggressive behaviour in a film has that effect on me), but also with a sense of gratitude of living where I do: in a city.
Car pollution or not – the air here is a great deal easier to breathe than it is elsewhere.
Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme, Xavier Dolan, CA 2013) My rating: 4/5
Some fellow Swedish movie bloggers also watched Tom at the farm. Here’s what they made of it: