The Death & Life of John F. Donovan

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

Oh oh oh, Xavier Dolan… I love you, you beautiful man, you and your astonishingly gorgeous, inspiring, powerful pieces of cinema. You and your camera, your costumes, your slow motion shots, your characters, your aspect ratios, your colors, and above all, your dissections of identity, sexuality, and mommy issues. In fact, regarding the latter, I cannot stress enough how much your masterful approach, especially in Mommy and I Killed My Mother mean to me and how they changed my perspective on my life and my own relationship with my mom. Your movies have in general been very influential and a key part of my life as a cinephile since almost the beginning, and I can’t possibly capture HOW excited I had been for The Death & Life of John F. Donovan (by the way: what a beautiful effing title!!!) for the past, what, 4 years or so…
but to make it short, now I have finally seen it aaaaaaaand, believe me, it physically hurts to write this into existence, but this was just very disappointing for me (I know a lot of you love this and I am honestly really happy for everyone who did! but I cannot lie to myself and say I enjoyed this). Maybe, certainly, my expectations were impossibly high. But I if I had to find the most fitting words to describe how I feel about it, then all I could say is that I just found this to be nothing but a beautiful, shiny, empty shell of a movie. A gorgeous, fragmented, paper-thin façade embracing an evanescent ghost of a movie that surely had something good buried somewhere within its deepest core.
Altogether, and I can’t quite believe it myself but, except for the last scene between kit harington and susan sarandon (because, well, mommy issues again), I felt nothing for the entire runtime, nothing, complete apathic numbness. Yes, it looks amazing and some performances were good and all technicalities in general were as solid as in every Dolan film; but underneath it all, all I found for myself was emptiness. It’s utterly surreal to say this about, of all movies, my most anticipated one ever, but all that this will be to me is just a hazy memory of beautiful mess.

Alright, gonna go wipe my tears and drink a few shots……. ugh I’m sorry… okay, now bring on Matthias & Maxime!!!

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