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Premiered in this year’s Un Certain Regard strand at Cannes, where it won Suzanne Clément the Best Actress award, 23-year-old writer-director Xavier Dolan’s third film shows a confidence and ambition unrivalled among his contemporaries.
Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) is in an exceptionally close and loving relationship with Fred (Suzanne Clément) when he one day announces that he wants to become a woman. While Fred is at first supportive, the relationship comes under increasing strain not just from within, but from the reactions of a curious public to this seemingly odd couple.
Secondary to this is Laurence’s attempt to use his situation as a chance to reconnect with his emotionally distant mother (Nathalie Baye), providing an effective counterpoint to the unhesitating acceptance offered by Fred. Dolan’s visual flair and narrative concerns belie his age, while outstanding performances from the two leads, Clément in particular, make for an absorbing and poignant depiction of life in the margins of society. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)