The Death & Life of John F. Donovan

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The Death & Life of John F. Donovan
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.jpeg
Teaser poster
Directed byXavier Dolan
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byXavier Dolan
Starring
Narrated byMichael Gambon
Music byGabriel Yared
CinematographyAndré Turpin
Edited by
Production
company
  • Lyla Films
  • Sons of Manual
Distributed byLes Films Séville
Release date
  • September 10, 2018 (2018-09-10) (TIFF)
  • March 13, 2019 (2019-03-13) (France)
  • August 23, 2019 (2019-08-23) (Canada)
Running time
127 minutes[1] f>
CountryCanada
LanguageEnglish
Box office$2.6 million[2][3]

The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is a Canadian drama film, co-written, co-produced, and directed by Xavier Dolan in his English-language debut. It stars Kit Harington, Jacob Tremblay, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Thandie Newton, Ben Schnetzer, and Jared Keeso. The film deals with themes of celebrity, tabloid media in Hollywood, mother-son relationships, and homosexuality.

The film had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, making it Dolan's first film to premiere at the festival. Following its premiere at the festival, it was universally panned by critics.[4]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In December 2014, it was announced that Kit Harington and Jessica Chastain would star in the film, with Xavier Dolan directing the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jacob Tierney. Harington would portray the titular character while Chastain would portray a journalist.[5] That same month, it was announced Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates had joined the cast of the film. Sarandon would portray the role of Donovan's mother, while Bates would portray the role of his manager.[6][7]

In November 2015, it was announced that Adele was in talks to appear in a cameo role.[8] That same month, Michael Gambon, Bella Thorne, Chris Zylka, Emily Hampshire, and Jared Keeso joined the cast of the film.[9] In February 2016, Natalie Portman, Nicholas Hoult and Thandie Newton joined the cast.[10] In July 2016, it was announced Ben Schnetzer joined the cast of the film, replacing Hoult.[11] In February 2017, it was announced Jacob Tremblay had been cast in the film.[12] In June 2017, Amara Karan joined the cast of the film.[13]

Gabriel Yared composed the film's score,[14] which was recorded in July 2017.[15]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on July 9, 2016, in Montreal.[16][17][18] Principal photography on Unit 1 concluded on September 3, 2016.[19] In February 2017, production resumed in Montreal, before being completed in the spring of 2017 in London and Prague.[20][21]

Post-production[edit]

In February 2018, Dolan confirmed via Instagram that during post-production, Jessica Chastain's character had been cut from the film for timing and pacing reasons.[22][23] It was later revealed Bella Thorne had been cut from the film.[24]

Release[edit]

The film was invited to premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in May, but (according to artistic director Thierry Fremaux), Dolan still wasn't happy with the film. He opted to continue editing, aiming to premiere the film at a fall festival.[25]

On August 1, 2018, it was announced that the film would have its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, making it Dolan's first film to premiere at the festival.[26] On January 25, 2019, Xavier Dolan posted the film trailer on his Instagram account, announcing its release in France on March 13, 2019. The post also stated that Dolan himself isn't aware of the release of the film in other territories.[27] The film will be released in Canada by Les Films Séville on August 23, 2019.[28]

Reception[edit]

The film received negative reviews by critics following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It currently holds a 18% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 17 reviews.[4]

IndieWire dubbed the film Dolan's "worst" of his career; they also called the screenplay "soapy" and "clumsy".[29] The Guardian gave the film one out of five stars, deeming it a "dubious mess".[30] NOW Magazine called the film "mediocre at best".[31] RogertEbert.com criticized Dolan's music choices and wrote that the film has "major flaws", but praised Tremblay's performance.[32] The Hollywood Reporter called the cast "impressive", but called the film a "half-baked, cumbersome, overlong psychodrama".[33]

In a more positive review, Screen International wrote that the film "may revisit a lot of familiar territory for Dolan but on this form it is good to welcome him home."[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Death & Life of John F. Donovan at The Numbers". The Numbers. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. ^ "The Death & Life of John F. Donovan at Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  5. ^ Yamato, Jen (December 4, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' Star Joins Jessica Chastain In Xavier Dolan Celebrity Satire". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  6. ^ Myles, Sarah. "Sarandon And Bates Join The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan". We Got This Covered. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  7. ^ O'Felt, Chris (December 9, 2014). "Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates Board 'Mommy' Director's First English-Language Project (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  8. ^ Jafaar, Ali (November 11, 2015). "Adele In Talks To Take Cameo In Xavier Dolan's 'The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  9. ^ Seetoodeh, Ramin (November 18, 2015). "Bella Thorne, Chris Zylka and Michael Gambon Join 'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (February 9, 2016). "Natalie Portman, Nicholas Hoult Join 'Death and Life of John F. Donovan'". Variety. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  11. ^ Erbland, Kate (July 29, 2016). "'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan': Ben Schnetzer Replaces Nicholas Hoult In Xavier Dolan's Next'". Indiewire.com. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (February 8, 2017). "Jacob Tremblay to Star in Xavier Dolan's 'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  13. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (June 19, 2017). "Amara Karan Joins 'The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan'; Luke Tennie To Star In Indie Drama 'Vengeance'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "Gabriel Yared to score Xavier Dolan's 'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan'". Film Music Reporter. October 6, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  15. ^ "Gabriel Yared". www.facebook.com.
  16. ^ Roxborough, Scott (May 17, 2016). "Cannes: Xavier Dolan on His Competition Entry and His Love of 'Home Alone'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  17. ^ "Xavier Dolan Talks Louis Vuitton, Movies & Adele". Daman. June 20, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  18. ^ Evry, Max (July 27, 2016). "Xavier Dolan's The Death and Life of John F. Donovan Begins Filming". Coming Soon. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  19. ^ Dolan, Xavier (September 1, 2016). "Off to NY for last 2 days of shooting on first unit of #deathandlifeofjohnfdonovan Gonna sleep it off for the next months after though. Happy but exhausted". Instagram.com. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  20. ^ Kelly, Brendan (September 13, 2016). "Xavier Dolan still smarting from scathing reviews of Juste la fin du monde". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  21. ^ McNary, Dave (February 8, 2017). "'Room' Star Jacob Tremblay Joins Xavier Dolan's 'Death and Life of John F. Donovan'". Variety. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  22. ^ Fernandez, Matt (February 5, 2018). "Jessica Chastain Cut From Xavier Dolan's 'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan'". Variety. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  23. ^ Hooton, Christopher (February 5, 2018). "Xavier Dolan explains why he cut Jessica Chastain from The Death and Life of John F. Donovan". The Independent. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  24. ^ Bramesco, Charles (October 12, 2018). "Bella Thorne on Her Haunted House and Those Paparazzi Photos". New York. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  25. ^ Tremblay, Odile (27 March 2018). "Xavier Dolan, privé de Cannes?". Le Devoir. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  26. ^ Pederson, Erik (August 1, 2018). "'The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan' World Premiere Set For Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  27. ^ "Xavier Dolan". Instagram. January 25, 2019. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  28. ^ https://www.citynews1130.com/2019/06/26/xavier-dolans-the-death-and-life-of-john-f-donovan-hits-theatres-in-august/
  29. ^ Kohn, Eric (2018-09-11). "'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan' Review: Xavier Dolan's Worst Movie Stars Kit Harington as a Depressed TV Star". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  30. ^ Lee, Benjamin (2018-09-11). "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan review – Xavier Dolan's wild misfire". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  31. ^ Ritchie, Kevin (2018-09-11). "TIFF review: The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan". NOW Magazine. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  32. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "TIFF 2018: The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, Vox Lux | Festivals & Awards | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  33. ^ "'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan': Film Review | TIFF 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  34. ^ "'The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan' - Toronto Review". Screen. Retrieved 2018-09-17.

External links[edit]