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

Leaving the movie, I felt a state of euphoria, but for every scene I loved, there was one I didn’t. So, I wanted to sit with it for a while, to see a lasting impact and determine how much I liked it. A week later, I feel the exact same about it (minus the euphoria, which has subsided). It left me wanting so much more; I felt like we only got glimpses of these people’s relationships and it left most of the character unexplored. I wanted more letters, I wanted the film to be longer, I wanted to spend more time with these characters and understand them better, I wanted each of them not only to be equally important (they are), but also actually feel equally important.

I do love how, with this film, Xavier Dolan decided to acknowledge every criticism he and his movies have received in the past and amplify them. More closeups, more melodrama, more mommy issues, more pomp, more everything. It feels like his most personal movie yet, in some way even more so than J’ai tué ma mère; it’s like autofiction, and he displays such a degree of self-awareness that I can only revel in it.

Dolan also did what I thought was impossible; he not only made me like Kit Harrington (who I don’t care much for—I have a deep contempt for Jon Snow, the character’s cultural impact, and everything he stands for from a narrative perspective… like i don’t think i’ve ever hated a character more out of sheer exasperation), but actually feel such a deep love and compassion for him, a desire to protect him at all costs. I came out wanting to hug him more than anything. And out of such a brilliant cast, only he really gets to shine (and perhaps Thandie Newton).

The moments that work are all recreations from his previous films or borrowed from other movies, but they work so well that I can’t help but love the film. I’m overrating it a bit, but it made me feel a roller coaster of emotions, which is all I really wanted from it.

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