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Friendships change over time, especially those born out of our childhood and adolescence. Many of these early friendships hide feelings of love, insecurity and jealousy, and it’s within these hidden, unspoken emotions that Xavier Dolan’s Matthias and Maxime finds its voice. Dolan’s tenth film would see him return to the role of actor and director for the first time since Tom at the Farm as he explored a friendship born in childhood and tested by an ocean of unspoken words and hidden desires.
During a weekend away with friends, Matthias (Gabriel D’Almeida Fritas) and Maxime (Xavier Dolan) lose a bet during a night of drinking, smoking and discussion. As a result, both friends find themselves participating in a student film where they are asked to kiss one another. However, this is not the first time they have kissed, and while Maxime remembers that kiss well, Matthias has pushed any memory firmly to the sidelines. But what starts as a simple kiss will soon morph into a reawakening of long-suppressed desires and unrequited love.
Dolan’s gift for capturing the rhythms of human discord is once again placed at the fore. Here he captures every longing glance, roll of the eyes and barbed comment as he unpicks a childhood friendship that morphed into something more during adolescence, only for both men to firmly close the door without uttering a word. Every scene is immaculately framed while every character feels real, all traits we have come to expect from any film that carries Dolan’s name. This is a simple story of two men, a secret held in plain sight and a pandora’s box of repressed emotions.
Matthias and Maxime is a nuanced exploration of male love, friendship, masculinity and identity in a heteronormative world – a classic will they, won’t they romance. But it is also a coming-of-age tale about the often challenging transition from our indulgent and energetic twenties to our more considered thirties. Here the last embers of Matthias and Maxime’s youth hold their glow as they attempt to stamp them out.
No matter your sexuality, you likely had a friendship like Matthias and Maxime at some point in your life, one where you longed for something more despite a lack of a romantic response. For most of us, the decision to walk away from that friendship was the hardest we ever made, as we accepted that nothing would come from it, and to stay was a torture we couldn’t bear. Dolan’s film understands those emotions and is a fascinating portrait of a friendship challenged and changed by an eternal love that won’t be silenced.
Canada | 1hr 59mins | 2019