Matthias & Maxime (2019)

Xavier Dolan has crafted a love story predicated on difficulty, rendering the central relationship equal parts platonic and romantic. A contrived moment focuses this tension. The kiss for a short film, at first dismissed as artificial but in fact authentic, becomes the emblematic change for a childhood bond, one that gives way to unspoken desire and baffled frustration.
Dolan captures the cacophony of voices in suffocating close-ups, by withdrawing the wide angle. From afar we see disputes and isolations through windows within windows, doorways within doorways. It accumulates into heartrending glimpses, stuttered words and unsatisfying closures. The breakthrough of lust can only happen in a halfway house, an outbuilding covered in tarpaulin.

The limiting and delimiting of intimacy proves futile and intoxicating. Dolan asserts his framing: natural light shot through blinds, silhouettes of wantonness, the raindrops of gay abandon. There is little sincere appeal to rigid sexuality; here it is fluid, a stream through which the characters reconcile the terms of their affection. The ending appears saccharine but retains ambiguity, one of love and friendship existing uneasily, smothered under a smile and a wave.

Joseph Owen, The Upcoming

  • Orig. title: Matthias et Maxime
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: Atlantic Film
  • Print source: Atlantic Film
  • Cinematography: André Turpin
  • Editing: Xavier Dolan
  • Music: Jean-Michel Blais
  • Sound: Sylvain Brassard
  • Production design: Colombe Raby