Plays October 18 at Centre culturel franco-manitobain as part of Cinemental
Me, Myself and Mum introduces its protagonist and narrator, Guillaume, as a boy who is a girl. What that means, exactly, is deliberately ambiguous. He’s flamboyantly effeminate, that much is clear. Is he gay? Transgender? Is this just a surreal narrative gimmick? Even Guillaume isn’t sure. It’s a fun question, and it works right up until the moment the movie answers it.
Mum is the screenwriting and directorial debut of French actor Guillaume Gallienne, who also stars as both Guillaume and the titular Mum. The film hinges on his performance, and it’s a good one. He’s both confessional and clownish. His physicality brings to mind silent comedians like Chaplin, but his comedic voice recalls early Woody Allen. His directorial style also reminded me of early Allen, with his breaking of the fourth wall, surreal narrative approach, and his casual goofiness. His Mum persona is less Monty Python than it is Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. The gender reversal is never a joke, but it’s intellectually motivated.
The movie poses a lot of questions about gender, sexuality and self-identity. It’s interesting and fun to see these questions asked by a character who doesn’t know the answers. Mum only becomes problematic when Gallienne does answer these questions, I would have been more satisfied if the film had left them ambiguous and unanswered. Instead, it arrives at a place that isn’t hinted at or justified by anything that precedes it. It’s tough to talk about without spoilers. Let’s just say that Mum goes from being a very insightful LGBTQ film to … not that. Maybe it’s a Sixth Sense situation, where a second viewing would show me the answer was right under my nose the whole time. But on first viewing, Me, Myself and Mum remains a funny and touching comedy with a problematic ending.