Directed by Xavier Dolan
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Country of Origin: France
Language: French (Watched with English Subtitles)
I’d hate to call this a quirky indie film, but this film was definitely way out of my usual movie viewing. I’m not saying I don’t watch indie films but I’m not even sure if this guy is indie or ‘mainstream’. Tom at the Farm left me dumbfounded. When a movie stays in my head and I think about it a lot, dissecting it’s meaning and it’s settings and it’s various scenes, I know a movie is good. The last time I remember this happening to me was when I saw the movie, Hana-Bi by Takeshi Kitano. I remember how the ending pissed me off real bad and thought: “Was it for the shockers?” or “Is Kitano an unbearably cynical person or am I misunderstanding the mobster genre?”
(This style of his reminds me of David Sylvian. Very 80s hair.)
So the movie is about a guy named Tom. Duh. He finds out his boyfriend, Guillaume, committed suicide or got into an accident. In the beginning of the movie you see Tom driving to his boyfriend’s home town with this somber French singing that creeped me out a little. And you can see that he’s been drinking because he’s totally distraught as he stops his car and throws a bottle on the floor and angrily starts slamming his foot on it. I will admit that I laughed at that scene. This movie has this really odd atmosphere that sort of reminded me of movies like The Village or Martha Marcy May Marlene. I watched this movie like two or three months ago. So bear with me.
In this little hometown, he finds out nobody knows who he is and apparently his boyfriend didn’t chat or gloat about their relationship to his family members, because at first, they didn’t know who he was either. But the big brother, who knew that his brother was gay wanted to keep Tom shut about their relationship. And then a whole slew of uncomfortable shiz nits happens.
The first reason why I chose to watch this movie was this very specific reason, Évelyne Brochu, I love Orphan Black. And the second reason is the one I stated above, it just seemed really unusual, and it is. It’s a very non-traditional psychological thriller, it was so subtle to me that I honestly had no idea what happened at first. It took me awhile to collect the information that I had just absorbed and witnessed. Usually in these types of movies, there’s a lot of torture and the bad guy is extremely unlikeable and there’s lots of dead bodies in the basement. But, Frank, the emotionally manipulative antagonist, isn’t that sadistic and is tall and handsome and makes you want to feel sorry for him. He’s lonely and misunderstood.
Tom is gas lighted and manipulated. He is forced to stay at this little country bumpkin town in the middle of nowhere, and Frank is abusive and punches his lightbulbs out in the cornfields when he tries to escape. Actually the scene you see in the posters above is the scene I’m talking about. In some movie posters you can clearly see Frank’s hand trying to snatch Tom’s neck in the fields, which is the second one, in the first one it’s blurred a little. And why is all of this happening? So nobody would know that Guillaume was gay, so nobody would know Tom was his latest lover. The brother tells his mother that the youngest brother was heterosexual and had a girlfriend, and that girlfriend is a small role played by Évelyne Brochu. Frank also wants the land to himself, he wants his aging mother to die and to live alone, except, he starts to like Tom.
And then I was wondering, why couldn’t Tom leave, he had some opportunities. Well, the movie would be too short. There’s a reason why some critics call this movie a psychosexual thriller. Some people called it Gay BDSM, but I swear there’s only one scene and it consists of Frank choking Tom, this movie isn’t very graphic at all. It isn’t very explicit, but it’s obvious that they eventually get attracted to each other. The homophobic Frank, who is freaking humongous compared to Tom and if this was real life Frank would’ve broken his neck long ago, falls in love with Tom. But of course this results in some more agony for Frank and more manipulation for Tom. When Brochu’s character notices how beat up the kid is, she points it out and Tom is in denial and looks a little conflicted. What finally makes the guy leave? Finding out that Frank has actually mutilated the face of a dude who danced with his brother at a bar and wanted to ask him something.
And this is what left me disappointed. I wish the movie was at least twenty minutes longer to answer some more questions. Why or how did Guillaume die? What the hell was that Slender Man face scene when Tom was taking a shower and Frank, the creep, opened up the curtains to ask him something? The mutilated face man was shown at the end, but you don’t get to learn anything more about him. I guess that’s what this movie is about, rumors are latent and are eventually true, and questions aren’t always answered, because the one who holds them isn’t willing to give it up. This is also what makes this movie even more haunting since it is basically a movie consisting mostly of mental abuse.
When I think about this movie more and more, it makes me really uncomfortable. And obviously that was the point but at the same time I knew that this film was out of Dolan’s comfort space. If you look at his previous works, you find out that he usually does LGBT drama romances. I say LGBT because the main characters are usually gay and he had done a movie with a transgender woman as the love interest. I will admit that I’m in awe at how young he is and he’s pretty close to genius if his work is so well received. But the ending left me unsatisfied and I kind of regretted reading reviews before watching the movie, because someone pointed out how the camera focuses on his face too much, and it started to annoy me too. Although, it’s unique because it forms a visual ‘I’ narrative. And well, Tom at the Farm is a brilliant work despite it’s flaws, in my opinion, and I wish to watch more of this guy’s stuff.
(I gotta watch that Pablo D’stair movie.)