So Xavier Dolan turns 25 today, and more over this May’s Cannes Film Festival will mark the five year anniversary of his eruption onto the world cinema scene. Said eruption flowed into a pretty remarkable streak, one that has delivered a wholly engrossing film experience to look forward to each year. And for this, we would like to wish actor/writer/director/editor/costume designer Xavier Dolan a very happy birthday.
When I Killed My Mother screened in the Director’s Fortnight program at Cannes 2009, the majority of the audience hadn’t heard of the filmmaker whose age was enough to make your heart stop. But in French Canada he’d been around for years — besides a few acting roles, most notably as an adorable troublemaker in a handful of commercials for Jean Coutu, a Québec drugstore chain. His deeply personal bildungsroman hailed a legendary eight minute standing ovation, and from this point on the Dolan boy became someone to look out for.
The newly-crowned wunderkind took no vacation time to bask in his accomplishment. His next feature, a highly-stylized bizarre love triangle starring himself and two of his pals, Monia Chokri and Niels Schneider, also made its way to Cannes. Les Amours Imaginaires, or Heartbeats, arose as another must-see on that year’s festival circuit.
During I Killed My Mother‘s first days of production, a crew member had told Dolan about her longtime boyfriend who took her aside one day and said that all his life he had felt he was a woman, and was going to take the steps to become one. Stirring a fit of inspiration in the filmmaker, he went home from that day’s shoot and furiously wrote a 30 page draft that would eventually become Laurence Anyways. The decade-spanning transgender love odyssey is undoubtedly his masterpiece to date, and upon its 2012 release it became clear that all of Dolan’s career had led to this moment.
Next time around Dolan took the Venice Film Festival for a spin, where he premiered Tom at the Farm, his first foray into genre filmmaking and an adaptation of Québec playwright Michel-Marc Bouchard. It hasn’t even made it to the United States yet, but Xavier Dolan is one step ahead and currently in the process of finishing post-production on his fifth (!!!) feature Mommy. It stars Dolan regulars Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément, and from his Indochine music video College Boy, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, another handsome Montreal childstar.
Dolan’s precociousness and workaholic output over the past five years have led to his being deemed an enfant terrible, and drawn comparisons to the likes of Jean Vigo and Rainer Werner Fassbinder — to name only a few. He makes movies in the vein of the prolific European auteurs we’ve come to adore, and he’s just turned 25. So bonne fête, Xavier. We can’t wait to see what comes with the next 25.