Since the success of I killed my mother, which propelled him to the rank of international superstar, Xavier Dolan has rarely put his career on hold. Between 2009 and 2019, he directed eight feature films, toured major festivals, acted in his films and those of others and lent his voice to a multitude of characters.
However, like many artists, the pandemic has forced him to slow down his frantic pace. It worked, of course, but differently.
“I was lucky not to go around in circles waiting for the phone to ring. This interruption of our lives still allowed me to sit down and think, to question myself, to do things more slowly and for longer. It was good for the artist and the man, at all levels. »
It was first his acting talents that were called upon, with the filming oflost illusions, directed by French filmmaker and screenwriter Xavier Giannoli. Adapted from a novel by Honoré de Balzac, the film will land on screens in Quebec on February 25. An ambitious fresco on the disappointed ambitions and naivety of youth, the work offers an incursion into the corrupt and misinformed backstage of the journalistic and artistic milieu of Paris in 1820.
In addition to providing the narration, Xavier Dolan plays Raoul Nathan, a respected author, an ardent defender of art, able to stand above shenanigans and compromises. His performance also earned him a nomination at the prestigious César ceremony.
The actor had no problem swapping his director’s hat to surrender to the direction of Xavier Giannoli. “There is a kind of twinning between us. From our first meeting, the friendly and artistic affinities were obvious. On set, I deeply admired his work and his scholarship. Xavier is an exceptional conductor, who knows how to lead all departments in unison to create his universe; a true artist in possession of his languages, his intellectual and artistic means. »
Foray into the small screen
After an initial postponement caused by health restrictions, Xavier Dolan also completed the filming of his first series this summer, an adaptation of the play The night Laurier Gaudreault woke up by Michel-Marc Bouchard. Expected this fall, this project is the filmmaker’s second foray into the playwright, after his brilliant adaptation of Tom at the farmAt the movie theater.
Presented in 2019 at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, the play tells the story of the return to the fold of a famous thanatologist after a long exile. Returning to her native village to embalm her mother, she is confronted with painful memories that threaten to upset the fragile family balance.
Xavier Dolan immediately knew that he wanted to make this work his next project. Hard to be surprised; his filmography is full of themes related to the difficulty of communicating and the return of characters at odds with a past they have tried to reject. “The piece is a camera that takes place in one and the same environment: an embalming room where characters meet and talk about each other. These elements of the past, which are only mentioned, seemed to me fertile ground to deploy my creativity. »
The television medium therefore allows the artist to explode the constraints of space-time and to make concrete the joys and wanderings of childhood, the buried secrets and the wounds that gnaw and consolidate the different characters. “It was obvious to me that we had to get out of the playing field that Michel Marc Bouchard had created for himself to show the past. After all, the play is called “The Night When…”, a night that takes place 25 years before the time the play is set. It was really interesting to recreate the 1990s, to bring characters only mentioned to life, to dive into the heart of the tragedy. »
The director had long cherished the dream of putting his talent at the service of the small screen. “What attracts me is the fact of being able to tell things more in depth, to take the time to present the characters, to follow them, expose them, understand them. In the cinema, you sometimes have to cut corners, say things quickly to capture interest. With television, I have the impression that people sit comfortably in their living room, and calmly wait to be interested. »
Always in turmoil, Xavier Dolan has no shortage of ideas and exciting challenges for the future. The artist, stingy with details, mentions among his next projects an American series, as well as a horror film set in the 19th century.and century. One thing is certain: he remains determined to move forward, to create, to think and to renew himself, to better land where no one expects him.