- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

CANNES, France (AP) - A 25-year-old Quebecois filmmaker is the toast of the Cannes Film Festival.

Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy,” a mother-son French-language drama, premiered Thursday in Cannes. While the writer-director is only 25, “Mommy” is his fourth film at the festival, though his first in the prestigious competition for the Palme d’Or.

“There might be a proper age to know how to tell stories, but there is no proper age to start telling them,” said Dolan. “I’m not thinking of myself as someone young. I feel neither young nor old, I just feel like I’m trying to do the right thing in order to tell a story that haunts me somehow.”

Though Dolan has been a fixture on festivals and won admirers for his previous films, his debut on Cannes‘ main stage had the feel of an international arrival. Appearing Thursday in a trim green blazer, dark-frame glasses and earrings on both ears, Dolan - often labeled a wunderkind or a prodigy - regaled festival-goers with an intelligence and poise beyond his years.

He spoke passionately about - of all things - James Cameron’s “Titanic” and its inspiration to him. He said the 1997 film was the first time it dawned on him that there was “an order to filmmaking.”

“It sort of gave me the faith in crazy and ambitious ideas,” said Dolan.

“Mommy” was made in an unusual, Instagram-like 1:1 aspect ratio - a square-sized frame that Dolan said gave viewers nowhere to focus but on his characters. It stars Anne Dorval as Diana “Die” Despres, a theatrical, feisty widow as she wrestles with homeschooling her ADHD-afflicted teenage son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon).

Critical reaction to “Mommy” was mixed, though some predicted it would be in the running for the Palme d’Or. Asked about what such an honor would mean, Dolan said:

“It would just be an extraordinary message to people my age and my generation”

- By AP Film Writer Jake Coyle, https://twitter.com/jake_coyle

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