"“A thought-provoking film that deserves a second viewing...”"

Well you don't get any prizes for guessing what the premise to Xavier Dolan's Tom at the Farm is, as the Canadian prodigy presents his fourth film from the director's chair, in his arguably his most defined piece yet. Which, as you probably worked out, is about a guy called Tom, and yup, he's at the farm.

Tom (played by Dolan himself) is grieving the recent loss of his boyfriend Guillaume, and so heads over to his former lover's family home and farm, ahead of the forthcoming funeral. Staying with the deceased's mother Agathe (Lise Roy) and brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal), Tom finds himself in a compromising position, as the mother who is mourning her son's death was completely oblivious as to his sexual orientation. While Tom struggles to keep his emotions – and secrets – under wraps, he is under close surveillance form the bullish Francis, who threatens to violently attack their guest if he dares make it known he was in fact more than a friend to Guillaume, in a bid to protect his mother and his family name, from something he evidently considers to be a sin.

Tom at the Farm is a pensive, multilayered piece of cinema, and the setting proves itself to be crucial enough to the narrative to warrant its inclusion in the title. The detached farm isolates our leads, particularly Tom who is left completely alone following his partner's death. The rural setting also explains the character of Francis, who has a naïve, ignorant mentality – where he's almost scared of the unknown, a fear which breeds his homophobia. You don't hate the character however, you merely pity him.

There's a very strong dynamic between our leading three characters, making for some memorable scenes when they are together at the dinner table. Though on the surface this repressive tale is somewhat morose, there is a dark wit prevalent within such scenes, as we watch on as Tom excruciatingly tiptoes around the truth, telling barefaced lies in the process. It's very tense too, as you're on edge throughout – because you know that if Tom puts one foot wrong it could spell the end for him. Meanwhile Roy is hugely impressive in her role, showing off her acting credentials in one powerful, emotionally charged monologue.

Tom at the Farm does get tedious at times – and question marks are raised about the way Tom's development at the farm and change of heart is portrayed – but  on the whole it's a thought-provoking film that deserves a second viewing. Particularly as there's more to be found in this title - it's very symbolic in parts, such as when Tom and Francis assist the birth of a baby calf, and subsequently wash blood off their hands.

However most of all this film benefits from Dolan's fine leading performance – as he's subtle and naturalistic in his approach. Of course there is always the risk that as director, writer and lead role this may be an over-indulgence of the man, but fortunately his evident talent ensures this not be the case.