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How Xavier Dolan is filming - one of the most promising young directors
How Xavier Dolan is filming - one of the most promising young directors

Life hacker talks about the main themes of the talented provocateur's work.

How Xavier Dolan is filming - one of the most promising young directors
How Xavier Dolan is filming - one of the most promising young directors

For the first time, Xavier Dolan got on the set at the age of four - his father brought him to appear in commercials. At the age of five, he already played a cameo role in a television movie and from that moment on, literally every year he began to appear in films and TV shows.

But early popularity got in the way of Dolan's social life - he couldn't even graduate from high school. And then, at the age of 16, he decided that he wanted to write scripts and make films himself. And soon the young Canadian became one of the most promising young directors.

I killed my mom

  • Canada, 2009.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 96 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 5.

Hubert, 16, is growing up and trying to prove to his single mother that he no longer needs constant care. He is annoyed by the lifestyle and behavior of his mother, tortured by work and household chores. She never learned to show her love to her son and cannot come to terms with his growing up. Therefore, Hubert hides all the important events of his life from his mother.

Dolan finished the script for the film back in 2006 (he was 17 then), but was able to take up directing only two years later. He decided that he would stage the picture himself and play the main role himself. The young director even had to partially finance the filming.

According to Xavier Dolan, this is a semi-autobiographical story, because he grew up without a father in the same way and learned a lot in life on his own. The frank and sincere picture was enthusiastically received at the Cannes Film Festival, which paved the way for the director for further creativity.

Imaginary love

  • Canada, 2010.
  • Melodrama.
  • Duration: 95 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 2.

Young gay Francis and girlfriend Marie have been friends for a very long time. But one day they meet the handsome Nicolas, who has recently arrived in the city, and both fall in love with him. Francis and Marie fantasize about a new friend, and this threatens to ruin their friendship.

After a successful debut, Dolan continued to shoot in his own style and on topics close to him. An ambiguous love triangle, where no one gets reciprocity, looks especially touching in his picture.

After all, the director, like his character, does not hide his homosexuality, but does not make it the center of the story or an end in itself. He sincerely and touchingly talks about the experiences of each of the characters.

At the same time, Xavier Dolan often refers to the classics of cinema when filming. In his paintings, you can find references to the work of Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, François Ozon and many other recognized geniuses of cinema.

Yet Laurence

  • Canada, France, 2012.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 159 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 7.

College teacher Laurence is working on her first book of poetry. He is doing well both in his work and in his personal life with his friend Fred. Their relationship seems to be harmonious, but suddenly Laurence announces that for many years she has been feeling like a woman and wants to change her gender.

For the third picture, Dolan decided to deviate slightly from the direction set in previous works. For the first time, he decided not to play the main role himself, but invited the actor Louis Garrel, known for "The Dreamers" by Bernardo Bertolucci. However, he soon left the project, and was replaced by the equally experienced Melville Poupot.

The length of the film has almost doubled. During this time, Dolan, using his favorite techniques (long pauses, slow motion, interesting work with color), was able to fully reveal another controversial topic. In his painting, the emphasis is placed not only on the condemnation of society, but also on the doubts of Laurence himself. After all, he does not want to lose Fred and feels selfish, because he does not care about her feelings.

Tom on the farm

  • Canada, 2013.
  • Drama, thriller.
  • Duration: 102 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 0.

Young copywriter Tom arrives in the village for the funeral of his lover Guillaume. As it turns out, the mother of the deceased was not aware of her son's homosexuality and thought that he would soon marry a decent girl. Francis, brother of Guillaume, asks Tom not to destroy the idyllic image and support the deception.

The reaction to Tom on the Farm has been calmer than previous films. Quite possibly because Xavier Dolan has outgrown teenage themes and began to shoot candid stories more subtly and accurately.

In addition, the director for the first time took a ready-made play as a basis, but personally reworked it into a film script. In this picture, there is less eroticism and provocation, everything is given rather in hints, concentrating more on the experiences of the heroes.


  • Canada, 2014.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 138 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 1.

Emotional single mother Diana picks up her son Steve from the boarding school and decides to start a new life. At the same time, the guy is prone to outbursts of aggression, and the mother sometimes even has to hide from him in the closet. Help comes unexpectedly from a neighbor who suffers from speech problems. She begins to communicate with Steve, and relations in the family are temporarily improving.

This film was considered by many to be the director's return to the origins of his work. He again took on one of the main roles of Anne Dorval and turned to the topic of the relationship between a mother and a difficult teenager.

Xavier Dolan also approached the visual range in an unusual way: most of the film was shot in 1: 1 format, that is, the screen is a square. But closer to the finale, it becomes clear that this was done not just for the sake of a non-standard presentation - this is how the perception of the world by the heroes is reflected.

The film became one of the winners of the Cannes Film Festival and received the "Jury Prize". And the Canadian Film Academy in 2015 nominated Mom in 14 categories and gave her nine awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

It's just the end of the world

  • Canada, France, 2016.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 99 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 9.

Successful writer Louis returns home after 12 years of absence. But he did not come just for the sake of meeting with relatives. Louis must inform them that he is terminally ill. However, it turns out that each of the loved ones also has something to tell, and there is simply no time left for the writer's tragedy.

"It's just the end of the world" is Dolan's most intimate story. He again filmed based on the play, and this added some theatricality to the picture. Almost all the action takes place in one house, and the camera shoots exceptionally close-ups. And at the same time, the director manages to tell not only about the present, but also about the heroes' past, which led to mutual grievances.

The film has an amazing cast. Four performers of the main roles - winners of the prestigious French film award "Cesar". As a result, the film won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival - the second most important award after the Palme d'Or.

Death and life of John F. Donovan

  • Canada, 2018.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 127 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 3.

Popular American actor John Donovan begins a correspondence with an 11-year-old boy from England who lives with his mother. People around them learn about their communication, and soon this leads to irreparable consequences in the lives of both heroes.

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan is Dolan's first film in English, and before that he always shot in his native French. The main role in the film was played by Kit Harington, whom everyone knows from Game of Thrones. But many considered the attempt to move from festival cinema to mainstream cinema not entirely successful. In addition, due to the timing of the film, some storylines were cut out.

As a result, the picture was greeted more coolly than the director's previous work. But still, fans of Dolan's work will find there controversial topics and excellent acting.

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