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Me Myself and Mum - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published July 4th 2014
A boy's best friend is his mother
Director: Guillaume Gallienne
Cast: Guillaume Gallienne, Andre Marcon, Francoise Fabian, Diane Kruger

Me, Myself and Mum is a coming out story, but like none you've ever seen before. Firstly, the roles are comically subverted. This is the tale of a family waiting for their teenage son to announce he's gay, while in fact he's quite ambivalent about sex, and hasn't quite decided which side of the fence he's on yet. Secondly, writer/director Guillaume Gallienne plays both himself and his mother in this autobiography. Apparently no actress would have done his mum justice.

me myself mum guillaume gallienne
Guillaume Gallienne plays himself and his mother, here with Andre Marcon as his father

The film itself is an adaptation of Gallienne's one-man stage show, and while the film has certainly been opened up to become an entirely cinematic experience, Gallienne cleverly retains a sense of theatricality by bookending the story with himself on stage recounting his memoirs and providing occasional narrative.

To quote a line from Psycho, a boy's best friend is his mother. That sentiment is taken to extremes by Guillaume. In adolescence he discovers he has an unnerving ability to imitate his beloved Maman. When he's not studying her mannerisms, he's daydreaming of being Sissi, a corseted and bewigged character in a wildly melodramatic period drama. While his mother takes his effeminacy in her stride, almost encouraging it, his father is less forgiving.

me myself mum guillaume gallienne
Diane Kruger as the alluring Ingeborg and Guillaume Gallienne

At school Guillaume is keenly aware he doesn't fit in, but all he cares about is winning the affections of his dreamboat friend, Jeremy. Even once infatuation kicks in however, Guillaume seems more wrapped up in a romantic fantasy rather than deal with the possibility of entering a sexual relationship.

He embarks on a journey of self-discovery, taking a few wrong turns and putting himself through some rather odd experiences to test his masculinity. Eventually he has an epiphany and realises what, and who, it really is that he desires. The results are surprisingly moving.

For much of its length this is a comedy with a camp and flighty character at its centre, but Gallienne's candid nature and gradual willingness to be honest with himself and his audience gives the film an emotional resonance.

me myself mum guillaume gallienne

Gallienne is a riot as himself, but ironically plays it straight as his mother. The supporting turns are all on the money, including a cameo by Diane Kruger as alluring health-spa nurse Ingeborg. There are also some wonderful directorial touches. In one scene our hero, in school uniform, falls into a swimming pool in a romantic daze, wallows in a blissful daydream, then walks out of another pool and into a party.

Ultimately, like Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother, this is a celebration of the director's mother, of all mothers, and all women. See it because it won Best Film and Best Actor at the French Cesar awards, see it for the novelty of a man playing himself and his mother, see it because it's funny or see it because it's a great coming out story. Just see it.

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Why? Best film winner at the French Oscars
Where: At selected cinemas
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