Jul 1, 2022

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018)

The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is a 2018 Canadian drama film, co-written, co-produced, and directed by Xavier Dolan, in his English-language debut. It stars Kit Harington, Jacob Tremblay, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Thandiwe Newton, Ben Schnetzer, and Jared Keeso. The film deals with themes of celebrity, tabloid media in Hollywood, mother-son relationships, and homosexuality.

A decade after the death of an American television star, a young actor reminisces about the written correspondence he shared with him, as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives.
Freddy and Krasnaya Movie Review

F: Here we go! This is going to be a good one. As soon as my ears got those "Rolling in the Deep '' vibrations by Adele, I became worried. Like I should... because this movie is a huge mess. This is the story... I don't even care to tell you, because I simply hate it. The first part of the movie lured me in with its mystery around the connection between the boy Rupert and the dead actor John. This mysterious story is told by an uncharismatic adult, Rupert, with an annoying, arrogant act, to a Times journalist. Rupert, in his forced and unconvincing manner, will end up conquering this serious political journalist (Thandie Newton), in an ear-bleeding speech, that his first world problems matter. Well, he surely didn't convince me. He did the opposite of that. I was OK at first with them two sitting in that café doing that interview because I was expecting a big reveal from all the promises that were coming from their manners. That never happens and, by the end, these two fools together just look ridiculous and embarrassing.

K: Hey Freddy! The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is a boring 2018 film that raises themes familiar to Dolan: son-mother relationships, same-sex love, hopeless loneliness and misunderstanding by others. It is noticeably inferior to everything that Dolan has created before. It is felt that it was some kind of torture for Dolan (it took him about two years to edit the film), it seems that he began to do it and needed this to be completed. But maybe it would have been better not to have done it. If this film had not been released, the world would not have lost anything from this. And yes, I agree with you completely, the musical component of the film did not cause any joy, pop songs only disappointed and annoyed me.

Emily Hampshire GIF
Emily Hampshire? Wait... what??
F: Like I said, I didn't dislike the movie at first, but at midpoint, when the big scandal about John corresponding by letter with a kid in England for 5 years is revealed to the world, the movie completely turns to shit. Piles of shit start to pile up on top of one another FAST. There are unbelievable stupid scenes like 11-year-old Rupert simply ditching school and being on his way to London alone. His teacher and his mother seemed OK with this situation. I don't know in what world these irresponsible adults are living in. Soon after this, we get unbearably long irritating monologues by uncountable characters which I didn't give a fudge about. I never thought that I was going to hate Natalie Portman like I did. She was infuriating me with her BS, and I couldn't even pay attention to what she was saying to young Rupert in some scene that I'd already forgotten. When a stereotyped wise grandpa figure appeared out of nowhere (just because) to give John another monotonous speech, I wanted to shut down the movie. But, I still gave it a chance. Probably there was still something interesting left to be disclosed to our Times journalist about this story...Nah ah, everything just ends with an overused rotten cherry of a song called "Bitter Symphony" on top of a monumental melodramatic diarrhea. I can only laugh today at how bad it is. But yesterday I was pissed off. Oh, and I almost forgot our Xavier Dolan mama's moment to the sound of the cover version of "Stand by Me"... by Florence and the Machines... This movie is seriously bad and Xavier Dolan should stay the hell away from selecting the songs for his movie's soundtrack.

I didn't talk about John, did I? Just go watch his bathtub scene... Jeez Louise!

K: Hmm, apparently it seems that Dolan (in two years while editing the film)  completely forgot about the fact that Rupert was supposed to be searched by the police, and that normally mothers and teachers have a different reaction to a missing child. I was also annoyed by Natalie Portman, she was just awful, some kind of wooden mother came out of her. In general, the whole action quickly turned into a contrived and false farce in the spirit of the worst Hollywood tear squeezers. Everything was somehow indistinct, muddy, filled with vulgar and high-flown dialogue. I was yawning frantically when the film reached its climax, as was Freddie. We both hoped for some unexpected twist in this story. It did not happen....  And yes, I agree with you completely, the musical component of the film did not cause any joy. The pop songs used only disappointed and annoyed me.

John F. Donovan GIF
Cringe to the max!
F: This is a disjointed and badly written movie with the power to make the best cast of actors look like fools. It is way too long, a complete waste of time and my gut tells me that someone was doing way too much cocaine... I can only recommend this movie to famous and pretentious former inside closet TV superstars.

K: This film lacks its own style and uniqueness. Pass it by.

John F. Donovan GIF
That's exactly how I feel kid...
Freddy's Score: 5/100
Krasnaya's Score: 20/100





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