The first reviews for Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World” are in, and they appear to signal the end of the 27-year-old’s reign as a critical darling. The Québecois writer/director’s fifth film to premiere on the Croisette — his last, “Mommy,” shared the Jury Prize with Jean-Luc Godard’s very, very different “Goodbye to Language” — is also his first to garner what so far looks like an almost universally negative reaction.
Indiewire‘s own Eric Kohn is among the kinder voices, giving the film a C and noting that adapting a play may have contributed to its troubles. “Dolan is a master of his own domain,” argues Kohn, “but on less steady footing when exploring someone else’s turf.” He goes on to say that Dolan has “crafted the semblance of a substantial movie that never quite gets where it was supposed to go. Fortunately, considering Dolan’s current rate of production, there’s no question he’ll keep trying to get there.”
Writing for Variety, Peter Debruge calls it Dolan’s “most mature work” but also his “most unbearable…a frequently excruciating dramatic experience in which characters seem almost never to stop talking.” A recurring theme in the reviews is Dolan’s decision to film his ensemble cast (Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel) almost exclusively in what Debruge describes as “claustrophobically tight closeup.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Jon Frosch, who counts himself among Dolan’s fans, takes little pleasure in lamenting that the film “is likely to unite the pro- and anti-Dolan factions in broad agreement: It’s not very good.” Dolan “may be incapable of making a flat or lifeless film,” Frosch concludes, “but for the first time he’s made a cold and deeply unsatisfying one.”
TheWrap‘s Ben Croll goes even further, calling “It’s Only the End of the World” Dolan’s “first total misfire” before observing that it “runs the risk of alienating many he had so recently won over.” Croll draws attention to cinematographer André Turpin’s “artfully composed frames,” but even that comes with a caveat: “Whereas similar imagery filled his previous films with energy and life, here it just makes the somber piece feel more claustrophobic and inert.”
“It’s Only the End of the World” garners 2/5 stars from CineVue‘s John Bleasdale, who says that the film, “though not a disaster, will be for many a disappointment.” Quick takes on Twitter weren’t any kinder. Buzzfeed‘s Alison Wilmore described it as “‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Famous’ And ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead’: The Movie,” while Little White Lies‘ Davey Jenkins simply tweeted a picture of the Hindenburg. That’s gotta hurt.
For more from Cannes, watch the “Café Society” trailer:
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