Xavier Dolan has spent a lot of time working on The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Filming began and ended in 2016. But then Dolan started filming again in 2017. The movie was supposed to premiere at Cannes in 2018, but Dolan said he was still tinkering with the final cut. That editing eventually lead to co-star Jessica Chastain being cut out of the movie entirely. The movie eventually premiered at TIFF in 2018, where it was met with a less-than-idyllic response. Now, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan is headed to theaters and On Demand next month, and there’s a new trailer to mark the occasion.
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan Trailer
Kit Harington, Natalie Portman, Jacob Tremblay, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Thandie Newton, Ben Schnetzer, Emily Hampshire, and Sarah Gadon star in The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, the English-language debut from Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. In the film, “A decade after the death of an American TV 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.”
This trailer is…odd. It looks like it’s attempting to be some sort of searing melodrama, and throws off serious Book of Henry vibes in the process. The flick is currently sitting at an eyebrow-raising 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviews calling the movie “A spectacular mash of half-baked ideas… Well, that, and a movie that just got lost somewhere in the editing room,” and “[A] half-baked, cumbersome, overlong psychodrama.”
Does that mean you should immediately write this movie off? No, of course not. Sometimes there are films with terrible reviews that end up being surprisingly good. Dolan is a good director, and he’s assembled a great cast here – so there’s always hope for a film that’s much better than it seems. The Death and Life of John F. Donovan will open in theaters and on digital and On Demand on December 13, 2019.