Matthias & Maxime (2 stars)

Matthias & Maxime

Cannes 2019: A kiss jeopardises a friendship in this unpersuasive effort from Xavier Dolan

Best known for Laurence Anyways, Tom at the Farm and Mommy, writer-director Xavier Dolan's finest films have been searing, immaculately crafted autobiographical dramas that allowed him to analyse life, love and suffocating family ties. Sadly, Matthias & Maxime has little of the dramatic conviction or emotional intensity that marked his early work. It is contrived and unpersuasive; characters grate, situations don't quite ring true, jokes are strained and it all feels oddly old-fashioned. Frenetic editing at times only adds to a very frantic approach.

Matthias (Gabriel D'Almeida Freitas) and Maxime (Dolan himself) have been friends since childhood. They are part of a close-knit group whose every encounter is marked by boozy horseplay, a cacophony of blokey banter, pranks and insults. One evening, Matt and Max are press-ganged into participating in a horribly pretentious student film shoot. They are to play two men making out on a couch. They move close together, hovering on the brink of a kiss that we never see.

Was it a kiss to build a dream on, or a kiss that has shattered all the certainties of their friendship? The two amigos subsequently avoid contact or discussing what happened. They are thrown into a tailspin of anxiety and introspection, exacerbated by the fact that Max is about to leave Montreal for a long spell in Australia.

The countdown to Max's departure provides some structure to a rambling storyline that has Matt entertaining misogynistic Mamet-like work colleague Kevin McAfee (Harris Dickinson) from Toronto, and Max trying to sort out future care for his unreliable mother Manon (Dolan regular and Mommy star Anne Dorval). Overwrought at times, maudlin at others, Matthias & Maxime has all the craft and cool musical choices one has come to expect from Dolan, but none of the heart and soul.

Screening as part of the Cannes Film Festival 2019. General release TBC.

Matthias & Maxime

  • 2019
  • Canada
  • 1h 59min
  • Directed by: Xavier Dolan
  • Cast: Gabriel D'Almeida Freitas, Xavier Dolan, Pier-Luc Funk, Samuel Gauthier, Antoine Pilon, Adib Alkhalidey, Anne Dorval, Micheline Bernard, Marilyn Castonguay, Catherine Brunet