Matthias & Maxime: A Canadian Drama About Friendship and Love
Matthias & Maxime is a 2019 Canadian drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan. It stars Dolan, Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas, Pier-Luc Funk, Samuel Gauthier, Antoine Pilon, Adib Alkhalidey, Anne Dorval, Micheline Bernard, Marilyn Castonguay and Catherine Brunet. It had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 22 May 2019 and was released on 9 October 2019 by Les Films SÃ©ville.
The film explores the hidden feelings that come to light and threaten the bond of a group of friends in their late 20s after two childhood best friends are asked to share a kiss for the purposes of a student short film.
Matthias (Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas) and Maxime (Xavier Dolan) are two lifelong friends in their late twenties living in Montreal. The motivated but uptight Matthias is a successful business worker with an attractive and caring girlfriend, Sarah, while the quieter, gentler Maxime is a bartender who spends time taking care of his abusive, alcoholic mother. Matthias is primed for a promotion at his job while Maxime is preparing to move to Australia for work opportunities.
The two take a trip to the lakeside cabin of a wealthy friend, Rivette. Rivette’s pushy sister, Erika, is a film student and pressures Matthias and Maxime to be in her student film, as her two actors have dropped out. Maxime capitulates and agrees to appear in the project, and Matthias is later forced to join after losing a bet to Rivette. They are upset to later learn that their participation will require them to kiss, but their friends remind them that they had kissed before, years ago in school, which Matthias claimed was the result of him being under the influence of party drugs. Nevertheless, they share an offscreen kiss for the film.
The kiss has a profound, distracting effect on Matthias, who cannot sleep the next morning and goes for a swim, accidentally ending up on the wrong side of the lake; later, he turns down a job promotion and argues with Sarah. He is further unnerved when Erika shows the completed film at a get-together thrown by her mother, though Sarah seems to understand his conflicted feelings. Meanwhile, Maxime turns over care of his mother’s estate to his aunt and tries to get a letter of recommendation from Matthias’s father, who is a successful businessman in Chicago. Both men are further confused by the kiss due to their understood interest in women, and Matthias is especially upset because of his relationship with Sarah. Matthias tries to get out of attending Maxime’s party, apparently in denial that he will actually leave for Australia, but Sarah pushes for him to go.
Matthias & Maxime is a touching and realistic portrayal of friendship and love that transcends labels and expectations. Dolan’s direction is intimate and nuanced, capturing the subtle emotions and tensions between the characters. The film also features a great soundtrack by Jean-Michel Blais that enhances the mood and atmosphere of the scenes.
The performances by the cast are natural and convincing, especially by Dolan and Freitas as the titular protagonists. Their chemistry is palpable and their scenes together are full of longing and hesitation. The film also showcases the dynamics of their group of friends, who are supportive but also judgmental and immature at times.
The film does not offer easy answers or resolutions for its characters’ dilemmas. It leaves room for interpretation and ambiguity about their feelings and choices. It also does not shy away from showing the difficulties and challenges that they face in their personal and professional lives.
Matthias & Maxime is a film that will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced a deep connection with someone that defies conventional norms. It is a film that celebrates the complexity and diversity of human relationships.