Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'Playing It Cool' With Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza & More Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'Playing It Cool' With Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza & More Watch: First Trailer For ‘Serena’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Watch: First Trailer For ‘Serena’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made Fall TV Preview: Our 22 Most Anticipated Shows For The Rest Of 2014 Fall TV Preview: Our 22 Most Anticipated Shows For The Rest Of 2014 The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Xavier Dolan Talks ‘Laurence Anyways,’ His Prolific Career & His Upcoming Psychological Thriller ‘Tom a la Ferme’

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist November 26, 2012 at 1:23PM

Three service elevators, two stairwells, and one cautious yet friendly hotel employee later, Xavier Dolan locates what he and his “Laurence Anyways” actress and friend Suzanne Clément discovered the previous afternoon: A barren hotel floor halted mid-renovation, drenched in sunlight amidst stripped columns and walls, and a cloud of dust lifted with every step through it. “This floor technically doesn’t exist, if you just use the main elevators,” notes the 23-year-old director of “J'ai Tué Ma Mere (I Killed My Mother)” and “Heartbeats” as we wander around the space.
0
Xavier Dolan

Three service elevators, two stairwells, and one cautious yet friendly hotel employee later, Xavier Dolan locates what he and his “Laurence Anyways” actress and friend Suzanne Clément discovered the previous afternoon: A barren hotel floor halted mid-renovation, drenched in sunlight amidst stripped columns and walls, and a cloud of dust lifted with every step through it. “This floor technically doesn’t exist, if you just use the main elevators,” notes the 23-year-old director of “J'ai Tué Ma Mere (I Killed My Mother)” and “Heartbeats” as we wander around the space.

He and Clément are both stationed here in one of Los Angeles’ historic hotels to promote "Laurence Anyways" -- the TIFF award winner which received a standing ovation at its AFI Fest premiere earlier this month -- and he suggests the abandoned floor as a perfect location for our interview. This proves only half-accurate. The next hour plays out in fragments; answers are given until the peculiar surroundings catch our eye, a well-concealed prescription bottle of “Skywalker Kush” here, or a three-legged antique chair somewhere else. Still, the measured pace allows the Québécois native to skip past immediate sound bites and to instead speak assuredly on “Laurence Anyways,” the misinterpreted qualities to his career, as well as his recently-wrapped fourth film, which he deems “completely different to anything I've ever done.”

Laurence Anyways

Even with the lower-key atmosphere though, to interview Dolan is to noticeably contend with his relationship to the press accumulated thus far. Hyper-conscious of the many labels and criticisms thrown his way, he now speaks with passionate yet careful clarification, having grown quite conflicted with the publicity side of his work. “There are great moments in promotion, great conversations,” Dolan told us, “But… there's a part of this world that I dislike, and it’s the part of justifying what I'm doing. Justifying that I'm 23 years old, or the fact that I said I was disappointed not to be in Official Competition in Cannes.” The prestigious festival’s decision this past year to place 'Laurence' in Un Certain Regard is one that greatly controlled Dolan’s life afterwards (more on that later), but for him, it was always simply the film’s ambitious approach that made it a worthy endeavor.

Aiming in Dolan’s words to “tell a 'Titanic' love story,” the drama charts the relationship of Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) and Fred (Clément) as he breaks the news that he wants to become a woman. “How does a transgender coming out happen?” asks Dolan, noting the immense emotional and experiential range he wanted to portray. “There's no way of doing it ‘progressively’… what does that even mean? If I'm going to go watch a movie about a gay guy coming out of the closet, I'm not going to impose the way that I came out onto it. I'm going to open up and widen my experience.”

Laurence Anyways

At first glance, 'Laurence' looks to have its own roster of justifications as well -- a near three-hour runtime, period setting, and decade-spanning storyline, to name a few -- but Dolan is adamant that every element had its purpose, especially the length. “We knew from the very beginning that if you want to talk about a love story like this, it's not gonna happen in two hours,” he says, “Even if you're Harvey Weinstein it's not going to happen. No one bullied me into cutting it.” Continued Dolan, “It's important in order to bond with [Laurence and Fred] to follow their rituals, their inside jokes. To know their family and environment, and to see that change, and feel that destructive work of time. And that's where the emotion happens.”

Part of that overwhelming sensation Dolan is after comes through enormously in his intuitive blend of image and music. His career has been one marked by visual storytelling coupled with that perfect song, from the use of Crystal Castles’ "Tell Me What To Swallow" in “J’ai Tue Ma Mere” to The Knife’s “Pass This On” in “Heartbeats,” and 'Laurence' shows a massive progression in terms of exploring character through these flourishes. However, for Dolan, the cinematography is rarely the point of most input. “You know, people talk about my visuals, which, of course, is flattering, but it’s not what I’m really focusing on,” he says. “You don't spend -- we don't really care about that. We care about the acting and the dialogue, and psychologically thinking about the scene. Some people will say of a frame, ‘Oh it’s calculated, it’s so pretty.’ It took a second. A second. ‘Put the camera here. No, here. Tilt up, thank you, now let's talk about the scene.’ ”

This article is related to: Xavier Dolan, Laurence Anyways, Tom at the Farm , Ordinary People, Interviews


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates