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Matthias & Maxime

Matthias and Maxime are young French Canadian men, who we first see preparing to go to a party. As they’re getting ready, they warn each other that their mate’s sister will be there, who is apparently to be avoided at all costs. When she arrives, you see why. She is a wannabe film student who can’t be more than 16, and speaks in Valley Girl nonsense. Literally her first words are omg.

It’s pretty clear that the girl is a figure of fun who we’re supposed to disdain. When she talks of her film being both Impressionist and Expressionist, we see that she has no idea of what she’s talking about. Her pseudo language is an alternative to any form of intellectual activity. Two things about this. One: feeling superior to adolescent girls and laughing at them is not big and its not clever. Two: its not as if anyone else in the film is any more attractive.

Matthias and Maxime always move around in the same group of 5 friends. Or maybe there are 6 of them. Or perhaps 4. In any case, they are barely distinguishable from each other. One has long hair, Another has a French name, maybe. At the party we watch them drinking heavily and taking drugs and having the sort of conversations that drunk high groups of young men have with each other. Yes, they really are that boring.

Here’s the plot as far as it goes. The younger sister film student who we’re supposed to hate is making a film and her 2 leading characters have dropped out. Maxime offers himself in a shot. Matthias is less keen, but after being proven to have lied to his group of bros, he must pay the forfeit of appearing in the film. This is a subculture whose hidden rules I honestly can’t understand. And yet director Xavier Dolan just assumes that we accept this sort of thing as normal.

Anyway, the film requires the two men to kiss. Maxime is out and proud, and this is obviously no big deal for him. Matthias has a girlfriend and is wanting to succeed as a lawyer (as if we really care). Kissing Maxime obviously opens up something that was hidden in him and his initial reaction is to go on a long and dangerous swim which ends up with him being thoroughly lost.

Other Plot happens. Matthias is a lawyer who might just get an important promotion. Now this may just be me, but the prospect of a well-paid lawyer becoming an even better paid lawyer is one of the things least likely to excite me. Matthias also has some sort of conflict with the wife or girlfriend or whoever she is. Like all women in the film, she is so poorly written that its really difficult to get really excited about any of this.

At one point, Matthias has to collect a client from the station. The client is not confident with his French, he’s arrogant and sexist and we’re obviously expected to hate him as much as we do film girl. And yes he is hateful. But I really couldn’t draw up the energy to find him particularly hateful. He is an obnoxious character in a film full of obnoxious characters. Why should we single him out?

Meanwhile Maxime carries on doing what it is he’s supposed to do – which itself isn’t clear. His job appears to be rowing with his mother. Any day now, he’s due to move to Australia, which means that every so often a scene fades out before we see a screen card saying how many days are left till the journey. This can be most frustrating as it often gives the impression that all this hell is over and we can finally leave the cineme. Then we realise that there’s 2 more days’ worth of this self-indulgent shit.

I have seen worse films than Matthias and Maxine – I must have, though I must say, no title springs immediately to mind. But I cannot remember seeing a film during which I was so thoroughly bored. I just had no sympathy any of the characters. I spent most of the time watching people I don’t care about playing games that seemed horrifying at parties I would do everything possible to avoid.

Other views are possible. Apparently Matthias and Maxime was up for serious prizes at Cannes, which you may choose to be a sign of its worth or worthlessness depending on your point of view. And apparently Dolan is a Wunderkind or an Enfant Terrible, or anything else in any language you choose. My preferred term would be vacuous poseur, but what do I know?

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