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

Dolan on the top of his game, no doubt hindered by basically cutting an entire other two hour film out of the final cut. All the flash you'd expect from him covering this type of material, the use of heated back and forth arguments or musical breaks feeling very familiar, as are the familial dynamics that he's played with before. It works because of its sinceiriety in itself, even if its form only is to Dolan.

As aggressive as this is, it never stops to handle its quiet moments in a quiet way, always pushing forward with an energy that doesn't always suit what we're seeing or necessitate itself. It's often quite the experience, yet its interview to flashback structure fragments what's otherwise a well paced, assured narrative path. The interview scenes are certainly of value, I just know they'd be better suited with a less restrictive and patterned placement.

The problematic relationship between Harrington and young JT will always be off-putting. Nothing sexual is outwardly hinted at between the two, but when a closeted celebrity is completely manufacturing their self-image while covertly communicating with a child for five years, my Woody Allen and Asia Argento senses start to tingle. Kit's title character mentions that people can't understand what their friendship is, which makes you wonder why he's an object of sympathy as a destructive celebrity who might be a pedophile.

It's one of the better looking and sounding films of the year, with an emotional core that mostly hits even if it's been done better in Dolan's catalog. It's just missing too much, too manical, weirdly into itself, and needs quite a few explanations from our friend Xavier before I can sign off on it.

Tyler liked these reviews