The Death and Life of John F. Donovan Reviews

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July 29, 2020
These moments lead us to Dolan the pedant, whose explicit articulation of ideas obscures a career-long attention to character and form.
July 29, 2020
With just a little streamlining [the film] might have zipped by in a brisk, poignant hour and a half. At over two hours, it goes straight to the Dead Letter Department.
January 7, 2020
It's far from perfect, but still manages to be a fascinating attempt at exploring sexual identity, isolation and the consequences of fame.
December 19, 2019
Convoluted gay-identity drama drags; drug abuse, smoking.
December 18, 2019
Its spectacularity is almost asphyxiating, but... each frame is also an excuse to plunge into the euphoria of its drama. [Full review in Spanish]
December 14, 2019
"The Death and Life of John F. Donovan" is a potentially powerful story, though one not successfully told in the slightest by Xavier Dolan.
December 13, 2019
Intended as a complex examination of the emotional toll of celebrity, this drama instead feels as shallow and pretentious as the characters it portrays.
December 12, 2019
From its contrived structure to its forced speechifying, this story... never acquires the emotional potency or coherence its themes demand.
December 11, 2019
In any case, what remains of John F. Donovan is a barely coherent mess, and so eager for your approval that it's hard to feel anything but sorry for it.
August 28, 2019
Dolan's most conventional film, and consequently the dullest. [Full review in French]
August 23, 2019
Even for someone like me who admires Dolan, the finished film is a bit of a mess. But it's kind of a beautiful mess, one that still has the power to be affecting.
August 23, 2019
The three-story narrative is the film's biggest misstep, by giving short shrift to what should have been the whole point of the film - the titular "death and life" of the main character.
August 21, 2019
A film with a fair bit to like within its shaggy, unwieldy construction, but not enough to outweigh the fact that Dolan's latest is an unqualified mess.
June 6, 2019
As flawed as it is, the film occasionally shines through its gloomy atmosphere with an attempt at defining the unfair cost of passion.
May 21, 2019
The hottest mess at #TIFF18.
September 21, 2018
What this needs is cohesion and a greater insight into the actions and outcomes he traces. And, most importantly, it needs far more heart than what is ultimately there. A Dolan film without the heart is about as disappointing as you can get.
September 18, 2018
Even at their most tonally awkward and clumsily soundtracked, Dolan's films can't help but be watchable, the phoniness of the hopped-up style melting away in the face of his performers' commitment to going all the way.
September 17, 2018
A baffling screenplay in which all the characters speak in the same, pretentious voice, stylistically vapid direction and non-existent drama add up to a fatal verdict.
September 17, 2018
A baffling exercise in taking real issues and genuine emotional experiences and (seemingly due to some misplaced anxiety) deploying them in service of pure vanity.
September 16, 2018
The film wants to be taken seriously, its earnestness only ever fleetingly successful at being a critique of our perception of it.
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