Tom at the Farm Screen 18 articles

Tom at the Farm

2013

Tom at the Farm Poster
  • Imagine a version of 12 Years a Slave in which Solomon Northup willingly endures his abuse without making the slightest attempt to flee. This will give you an approximate idea of both movies’ tiresome plotting — the circumstances of these young men’s would-be confinement are so patently ludicrous that it becomes impossible to take any development thereafter seriously.

  • Gabriel Yared's furious cod-Herrmann score can't disguise the material's fundamental emptiness. Poorly acted, too, especially by the guy playing the dead man's brother. Dolan's first complete misfire, but I mostly blame his bad taste in theater.

  • If the final shots of Francis bellowing helplessly as another little brother figure flees for higher ground recall the end of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it’s less a compliment to Dolan’s cinephilia than a comment on the barn-side broadness of Tom at the Farm’s rural-urban dichotomy.

  • The tone veers violently from scene to scene, variously suggesting a fish-out-of-water comedy, a psychodrama, and a Misery-style thriller—none convincing. That the material is pulled from a play, written by Michel Marc Bouchard, makes perfect sense: Only onstage, perhaps, could one accept a version of this story that doesn’t end, very early on, with Dolan’s character getting the hell out of dodge upon first opportunity.

  • The formal demands of a thriller seemed to outfox Xavier Dolan, the outrageously advanced 24-year-old director who already has four features to his name. Based on a play that's no doubt electric in a live setting, Tom at the Farm occasionally exploits Dolan's gift for tense conversations—particularly those around a dinner table. Yet the movie's sexual politics (including a closeted psycho) are too easy for Dolan.

  • Dolan’s idea of how to build suspense involves shadowy close-ups and keeping his scene partner out of the frame. One theme seems to be self-hatred, but Dolan’s performance, and his camera’s eye, keep insisting that Tom is pure fascination.

  • Dolan is keyed into the salient idea that people are more horrifying when you consider less what they may have done and more what dreadful actions they're capable of doing. Similar to Tom's building pathology, the audience is likely to feel stuck in a Stockholm Syndrome-esque affliction: equal amounts repulsed and fascinated by Tom at the Farm's eerily captivating and resonant environment.

  • Tom At The Farm finds Dolan taking anti-gay violence and bullying and doing something rather unusual with it. Rather than making the fully-expected (and frankly tedious) realist tearjerker or talking-heads-and-stats NFB documentary, he concocts a Hitchcock / Chabrol psychological thriller.

  • Through it all Dolan seems to be exploring different levels of proximity. Tom and the Farm forces its characters to get up close and personal with intoxicating and repulsive memories. Sometimes they are one in the same. What’s harder to explain is how this frustration with identity and past trauma somehow devolves into a critique of American life.

  • "Tom at the Farm" strains to be a psychological thriller but its length (102 minutes) dissipates the tension that should be taut and compressed. This is Dolan's first attempt at genre, and while there is much to admire here (mainly the visuals and the score, both stunning), Dolan's interests lie in the strange undercurrents of sado-masochism between the two main characters, and it's a through-line that deserves more attention.

  • Dolan is clearly smitten with the idea of putting his own twist on the genre, and the greatest takeaway from this staunchly opaque effort might be that the emerging director can put your heart in your throat as capably as he can tear it out of your chest. If “Tom at the Farm” is occasionally impenetrable as a drama, it’s seldom less than gripping as an exercise in suspense...

  • The fourth film by ultra-precocious Quebecois multi-hyphenateXavier Dolan is, by a country mile, his strongest to date, louchely jettisoning the rah-rah pretensions and blustering style flourishes of yore in favour of a taut, precise psychodrama that wears its influences lightly but firmly.

  • Critics of this film have highlighted behavioural inconsistencies, but that is to miss the point of this haunting meditation on the power of grief, lust, repression and madness. Each potent state fuels the other against a backdrop of genuine peril that feels all the more intense for the fact that none of the characters are at all stable.

  • What makes Tom at the Farm a particularly interesting work is that under the guise—the very efficient guise—of a psychological thriller lies another more intimate, poignant piece on love and mourning. It is this unusual mix of spine-tingling and heart-wrenching that leaves such an enduring mark.

  • While it flaunts its sexuality with brazen matter-of-factness, the cinematic pleasures it delivers are straight out of 1940s and 1950s melodramas. It pays loving attention to the rules of genre, while conveying a sense of danger in male heterosexual insecurity and rage that feels genuinely of the moment.

  • A film that so thoroughly externalizes psychological states it becomes almost corporeal, a startling recombination of the film forms scholar Linda Williams famously labeled "body genres." Scraping together the techniques of horror, melodrama, and, if not pornography, then something like romance, Dolan concocts a promiscuously stylized portrait of the sadomasochistic allure of the "masculine." Tom at the Farm isn't a wet dream. It's a wet nightmare.

  • It is loving and emotional but cynical nonetheless, bluntly honest to the point of what most of us would consider tactless, so practical in its expressed need for self-preservation that it becomes callous.

  • Tom at the Farm, adapted by Dolan and Michel Marc Bouchard from Bouchard’s own play, has the outward trappings of a genre piece. And as such, it’s fairly suspenseful. But at heart, it’s still very much an Xavier Dolan film – ragged, explosive, and often moving.

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