Pink Film

Text by Danny Calvi
All choked up... Xavier Dolan flirts with erotic asphyxiation in Tom à la Ferme.

This year’s Roze Filmdagen, AKA the Amsterdam Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, looks promising. Among the one hundred and eighteen feature, documentary and short films, festival director Werner Borkes has selected Xavier Dolan’s gripping fourth film, Tom à la Ferme (Tom at the Farm), to kick things off — and it’s a doozy.

Dolan stars in — his straw hair bleached and frizzed like a scarecrow’s — directs, produces, and has adapted this carefully constructed thriller from the play of the same name by Michel Marc Bouchard. It’s a kind of coming-out film in disguise, and IMHO, should be required viewing at every PFLAG meeting across North America. Has any other director captured so perfectly the psychological or physical torment of the rural gay? I don’t think so.

While it’s not a horror film per se, Dolan puts that genre’s tropes to good use here. There’s Tom, the naive newcomer, the isolation of the rural locale, the eyeless face, the cornfield, the dead animals, and the harbinger of impending doom. Like the best of the horror genre, the movie penetrates your psyche as it tiptoes the fine line between trauma and eroticism. As Tom becomes a willing participant in his own abduction, you’ll be squirming in your seat.

Probably because of its formal qualities and the tense score, Tom at the Farm has been compared to Hitchcock films, but I don’t recall Hitchcock ever making such a sexually-charged film, or casting himself as the vulnerable protagonist at the center of it.

Also worth checking out are: Bruce La Bruce’s cross-generational romcom, Gerontophilia; Abdellah Taïa’s directorial debut of his own novel, Salvation Army; the Jeffrey Schwarz crowd-pleasing Divine documentary, I Am Divine; and Antonio Da Silva’s short, Gingers, first previewed on BUTT last spring.

Roze Filmdagen starts tomorrow, Thursday, 13 March 2014 with opening film Tom à la Ferme from 8:15 P.M. at the Ketelhuis cinema in Amsterdam. For more info and the full festival program visit the website.