Blu-ray Review: Tom at the Farm
18th August 2014
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★★★★★ Tom at the Farm is one of this year’s most memorable films. Released in only a handful of cinemas in the spring, I desperately hope it will find a larger audience on Blu-ray, DVD and VoD. It deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Directed by the prolific Montreal filmmaker Xavier Dolan (director of five films, only just 25 years old), this is a swirling, hypnotic, enveloping piece of work, one that is very hard to describe through words. It’s the type of film you experience rather than simply watch. This is definitely Dolan’s most unsettling film to date. Hitchcockian in its narrative structure, but a lot crueller in its execution, it reminded me of some of the nastier stories of Roald Dahl (his regularly overlooked adult fiction, not The BFG) with perhaps a dash of Michael Haneke. The plot concerns a young man, Tom (played by Dolan himself) visiting an isolated farm where his deceased boyfriend’s family lived. There he finds his grieving mother (a beautiful performance from Lise Roy) and, more disturbingly, his controlling and intimidating brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal). As Tom gets to know the family he becomes unable to leave the farm (both practically and emotionally) and Francis’s psychological games become more than a little unnerving. From mind-games to harsh physical abuse, Tom finds himself under the influence of this domineering and beguiling young man. Dolan here exhibits a gift for atmosphere and menace I would never have believed him capable of based on his other more forgettable efforts. This film, however, is a breathtaking exercise in disorientation and threat. It’s cold, dark spell is hard to shake off even weeks after viewing, and the film’s closing act is so horrible and haunting that some viewers may find it too upsetting to witness. For those who like this type of thing, give it a go. Get lost in its weird rabbit hole, soak up the fear and marvel at its power.
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