Tom At The Farm – Review

I really wanted to like this film. I think it is the first Xavier Dolan movie that I’ve seen in a cinema and the cinematography in this film really is wonderful. There are beautiful panoramic shots of Canadian farming land, there is brilliant use of the close up and some artistic almost still imagery and there is the brilliant action footage shown above as our hero Tom, played by Xavier Dolan who also directed the film, tries to escape through a razor-sharp cornfield. There is a lot to like as well in the music he has used so well and in the strong cast of actors.

I was, however, left unsatisfied by the film and I’m not sure that I can really put my finger on it. It is a very complex film that attempts to deal with many deep issues including the love and loss of a lover, the grief of a mother for her lost child, loneliness, tension between rural and urban folk, isolation, repressed and ambiguous sexuality, dishonesty in relationships, and homophobia. Maybe there lies the problem in that many of these issues were not fully explored after being introduced. I do enjoy those art house films that leave a lot unsaid; leaving interpretation up to the audience. In Tom At The Farm Xavier Dolan holds back well on the storyline, but I think the development of the characters was somewhat jerky in many areas and that might have been because of the scenes that were edited out, as there were so many complex issues being covered.

Some elements of the plot or story seemed to stick out like sore thumbs and I didn’t think they needed to have been introduced, such as the dead son’s fictional female lover from Montreal. The point had already been made well enough and I think the visit of that character Sarah, to the farm, at the request of Tom, didn’t really add a lot to the story and it was also left just hanging there after a far more significant scene between Tom and a barman.

I was also left a little uncomfortable that we are again seeing a gay character portrayed as very flawed, inconsistent, fairly weak, and effectively persecuted and manipulated by a stronger bigoted homophobe. That tends to reinforce some rather unfortunate stereotypes. And for once I’d just like to see a gay character portrayed on the big screen that I didn’t have to be embarrassed by or feel sorry for.

My score: 3/5.

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