A few years ago Quebecois filmmaking wunderkind Xavier Dolan’s career trajectory was only going up and up with five directorial efforts, many of which were highly acclaimed, under his belt by the age of 25.
In 2016 he premiered “It’s Only the End of the World” to a muted response and lashed out at the critics over their reaction. He also began work on his first English-language feature with “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” which involved some big stars like Kit Harington, Jessica Chastain, Thandie Newton, Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon.
Then that project stumbled. Reports of production troubles led to long delays, the film hitting issues in editing with Chastain’s character ultimately excised from the movie altogether in order to get it down to a reasonable length. The final 123 minute film premiered at Toronto in September to scathing reviews and this time Dolan wasn’t so defensive in his reaction.
He has since shot the much more indie French-language “Matthias & Maxime” which takes him back to his roots, and in a new interview with Telerama (via The Playlist) he has spoken some more about the troubles he experienced filming “John F. Donovan” and how there were more issues going on with it than anyone expected:
“For the first time, everything was painful and problematic from start to finish, from funding to post-production, and beyond. It would be inelegant to name precisely the people who were problematic, and I am finally proud of the end result, but we had to make very difficult choices.
I lived all the disappointments that I could live, humanly and artistically. By switching to a large budget, a fragmented shooting, in English and on two continents, I had to face my own ignorance, inexperience, incompetence. Everything was new to me, I had the impression go out of my kitchen, that is to say, leaving my artisanal practice of the cinema.”
“The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” arrives on screens in European markets in March, and a US release has yet to be announced.