XAVIER DOLAN the season's revelation
25, ultra–talented, XAVIER DOLAN, ultra–coiffed, hyper and seductive actor–director delivered a visual and emotional uppercut to this year’s Cannes Film Festival with Mommy.
his self–assurance, like some boy wonder explaining maths theorems to a teacher who has completely lost touch. His next films only confirmed his audacity: Dolan isn’t backwards about coming forwards, chastising Thierry Frémaux because he didn’t put Laurence Anyways into the official competition at Cannes. The day after this year’s winners were announced — Dolan shared the Jury Prize with Godard — he declared, “I have to say I’m disappointed not to have won the Palme d’Or.” Dolan dreams big. In Quebec, living next door to the American giant combined with a uniquely picturesque French accent teaches locals to know their place. Not Dolan. A charmer, he quickly suggests superstar Nan Goldin to take his portrait for this article. How could we refuse? “It really is a mise en abyme for me to be photographed by her. People only ever ask which film–makers influence me, when in actual fact one of the ways I prepare for a film is to put together a lookbook of images that inspire me. This is the one for Mommy [$he turns the pages”$] . See, this is Nan, and this one, Nan again$… When we were shooting the film, I went to see my director of photography maybe thirty times to show him these images and tell him that’s what I wanted.” Xavier Dolan never seems in any doubt about what it is he wants, and to want it fast, with every bone in his body. Probably because behind all the bravado, behind the belief that he can say anything, confront anything at an age when others barely dare make a short film, he admits to working “in fear”, in an age that is rushing headlong into disaster. —A hotel restaurant, Paris, early summer. We’re meeting Xavier Dolan, recently anointed with the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his fifth feature, Mommy. Because we have a lunch appointment, and being the conventional type, we ask for the menu as we take our seats. The 25–year–old director has different ideas. He balks, hesitates, and finally orders three bite–size nems, something he will regret the minute they enter his stomach ($“It’s sweltering in here, I feel fat, stifled, stuffed with food”$). For the next hour, he comes across exactly as we’ve got to know him from media appearances ($which he now views with suspicion$) and from gravitating around him at festivals: ambitious, emphatic ($“I’ll have a macchiato. Make sure it’s decaf, otherwise my heart will explode”$), prone to peculiar but well–intentioned outbursts ($“You really need to know how bad the coffee is in France”$) and proclamations, peppering his speech with curious images ($“When you’re stoned, your mind is like a dresser with all the drawers open”$).
Xavier Dolan exploded onto cinema screens in 2009 with I Killed My Mother, which he wrote, directed and played the lead in. He is a production studio unto himself, a ($mini$) wave of hipster cool ready to engulf the world from the shores of Quebec. Dolan is uncontained, uninhibited by superego. Journalists are taken aback ($and sometimes thrown off–guard$) by