It's hard to care about Xavier Dolan's Matthias & Maxime

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      Starring Xavier Dolan. In French, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable

      “I get tired of their songs and games,” half the title team named here says to his girlfriend, explaining why he doesn’t want to go the other one’s going-away party. “Eventually, you have to grow up.” In Matthias & Maxime, former wunderkind Xavier Dolan wants to follow that advice. But he has somehow lost the spark that animated more youthful efforts, like Mommy and I Killed My Mother, without moving on to a more mature filmmaking style.

      The director himself plays Maxime, heading off for a year or so in Australia, to find the same kind of bar work he does in Montreal and, presumably to find himself. Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas is Matthias, the lifelong pal who’s so ambivalent about that departure. Sure, he’ll miss Maxime, but the real reason for his sulk comes right at the start, when a gang of late-twentysomethings holds a reunion of sorts at a nearby lakehouse.

      When one pal’s annoying little sister (Camille Felton) drafts them to be in her student film, she randomly asks them to kiss, setting off a paralyzing quaver of confusion. And that’s pretty much it for story. Dolan doesn’t give these ostensibly straight dudes much to do except mope, fret, and distract themselves for the rest of the movie’s very stretched-out two hours. Their problems at work, with family, and with other friends feel as arbitrarily chosen as the port-wine stain on Max’s face—a feature with no relevance except for one throwaway scene near the end.

      There are also Max’s attempts to take care of his angry, ex-addict mother (Mommy’s Ann Dorval). As usual, Dolan’s women are ditzes, drones, or shrieking harridans. But at least his movies used to be fun, reflecting the gender-role excesses and social politics of influences like Pedro Almodóvar and Denys Arcand, both of whom get name-checked here. M&M, however, is shot on film to rather grey effect, with clunky, handheld camera moves further dulling down a story that never gives us enough rooting interest in its protagonists to actually care about the ampersand between their names.