Mommy is one of three Canadian films vying for the coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes, joining David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars and Atom Egoyan's The Captive.
In his latest, Dolan returns to the theme of the mother-son relationship, which he previously explored in his debut effort J'ai Tué Ma Mère (which won a trio of honours in Cannes in 2009).
Like his first film, the visually striking and operatic new project once again stars Anne Dorval in the maternal role, this time as an outrageous single mother with a hyperactive, tyrannical teenage son (played by Antoine Olivier Pilon).Their lives take a turn when they befriend a shy neighbour, portrayed by another Dolan regular, Suzanne Clément.
Mommy's red carpet premiere in Cannes today arrives on a wave of buzz following the film's press preview on Wednesday.
"It's uncanny how much Dolan's style and overall solipsism have evolved in five years' time, resulting in a funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work — right down to its unusual 1:1 aspect ratio — that feels derivative of no one, not even himself," according to industry publication Variety.
"Dolan's fifth feature feels like a strong step forward, striking his most considered balance yet between style and substance, drama-queen posturing and real heartfelt depth...Mommy should have plenty of potential commercial appeal beyond Dolan's hard-core art house fan base. This could be his Blue Is The Warmest Color moment. The Ego has landed," wrote industry paper The Hollywood Reporter.
The Guardian described Mommy as "an uproariously emotional movie, to all appearances painfully personal and featuring performances which are almost operatic in scale. These are real heart-on-sleeve performances; even heart-on-straightjacket performances...But Dolan's energy and attack is thrilling; his movie is often brilliant and very funny in ways which smash through the barriers marked Incorrect and Inappropriate.
"Prodigies don't get much more prodigious than this."
A win to recognize youth: Dolan
Potentially winning the festival's top prize wouldn't necessarily mean a triumph for Quebec or Canadian cinema specifically, but one for youth, Dolan said on Thursday.
"Should we win anything at all, I mean I'm from Quebec and Quebec is in Canada...Whatever my political views are or standpoints, I feel like my movie is very Québécois. But it would certainly be an international victory," he told reporters.
"For me, it's not about a country or a province or old dilemmas or wars — that, my generation doesn't associate with or relate with anymore, by the way. It would just be an extraordinary message to the people my age and to my generation."
Dolan faces stiff competition for the Palme d'Or, with older and established filmmaking veterans such as the U.K.'s Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Two Days, One Night) and American Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) also earning widespread raves at Cannes this year.
However, if he wins, 25-year-old Montrealer Dolan would be one of the youngest recipients ever of the coveted cinematic honour (joining France's Louis Malle, who was just 23 when he won for co-directing the Jacques Cousteau documentary Le Monde du silence in 1956).
The Cannes Film Festival continues through May 25.