Many of the lesbian and gay directors considered in this season of the Film Qlub were not only brilliant artists, but they were also driven enough and mad enough, in order to get their radical films made at a time when homosexuality was at best a handicap and at worst a death sentence. So what happens when a bright young thing comes along, growing up in comfort in a post-legalisation West, at a time when it is possible for gay-themed films to be financed, made, and distributed without committing career suicide?
What happens is Xabier Dolan (b. 1989), a Quebecoise filmmaker who, after presenting his first film in Cannes Film Festival at seventeen years of age, received a ten minute long standing ovation by an enraptured audience. The film was I Killed My Mother (2009). It is a study of a teenager’s inexhaustible capacity for selfishness. It shows how ‘The Tantrum’ can become the default setting for creatures (gay or straight) who will turn into abusers and wreckages in adulthood. The protagonist, Hubert, played with conviction by Dolan himself, is, as we say in Ireland, a ‘gobshite’. But he gets himself into such a state in his arguments with his long-suffering mother, that it is great fun to watch him unravel.
So, it is with this Dolan film that we come full circle in cinematic representation. It turns out that lesbians and gays are not always flamboyant psychos, incurable romantics, sexy outsiders, repressed self-haters, or irresistible cuties. We can also be… embarrassing, stupid fools. Isn’t it liberating? After a century and an half of LGBTQ-directed films, it turns out that we are much like everyone else.