The Death & Life of John F. Donovan ★★★★

...Interesting. Lots to think about with this film.

There's moments in this that are so extremely poignant and emotional and powerful: John's scene in the bathtub with his family, Jacob Tremblay's fight scene with Natalie Portman (that kid is a good crier, jesus), Jacob watching John on talk shows on TV, John in the doorway with Will, and even his night out that he later regrets (it's shot in a way that's so alluring and beautiful).

There's also moments that are definitely too much but still land for me: Jacob and Natalie in the rain, Thandie Newton and the older Rupert's departing, John's first trip home to his family, the completely shameless use of the mid 2000s hits throughout, etc.

Then there's moments that I'm baffled made it into the final cut of this after they edited for so long: everything leading up to and including John's "explosion" on set (this actually might've worked if they had literally just changed whatever godawful music cue was playing)

Overall, I thought the John character was fascinating and really well-performed. The only thing I'm confused about is why they didn't explore the actual contents of the relationship between him and the Jacob Tremblay character. Their connection/correspondence is constantly alluded to but the audience is never really allowed to see/judge it for themselves, which is especially frustrating when it becomes public and we're not sure what side we land on, since we haven't been convinced one way or the other.

Despite its flaws I was really moved by this film, especially the first half, and I love Xavier Dolan's genuineness: he's completely unabashed. I’m usually not an “optimistic” person, but I appreciate sincerity like this when I see it.

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