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Xavier Dolan opens up about family life and criticism of his latest film

By Will Stroude

Xavier Dolan, the rising gay actor, writer and director who’s been making waves in the film world over the last few years, is back with his latest movie, It’s Only the End of the World.

Starring Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel, the film centers around a young gay man returning home to visit his rather argumentative family, and won the Grand Prix at Cannes earlier this year – but not without attracted its share of controversy.

27-year-old Dolan, who also directed the video for Adele’s ‘Hello’ last year, was interviewed on The Cinema Show earlier this month, where he talked openly about being a young gay filmmaker, his relationship with his mother and tackles the criticism he received for certain aspects of the film.

The screenplay is adapted from the play Just la fin due Monde by Jean-Luc Lagrace who died at 38 years old from an AIDS-related illness, but Dolan has faced criticism for the script’s lack of an explicit of the virus, despite the central character suffering from an undisclosed terminal illness.

“I know people were anxious to know why the lead character had left home years ago without ever coming back,” he explained on The Cinema Show. “I never said whether he was dying of AIDS or cancer or what it was exactly that he was dying from.

“Does it really matter? I think what matters is what these people have to say to one another in this amount of time, the time that they have together which is 5 or 6 hours, tops.”

Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel star in Dolan's award-winning It's Only the End of the World.

The French-Canadian filmmaker continued: “I don’t see why that type of resolution wouldn’t feel true to life. Life is often unexplained and unjustified. We don’t have reasons for everything and answers to all questions.”

Though he may dispute some of the critics’ remarks Dolan did confess to feeling vulnerable when presenting his movies to the wider world.

“Of course, the reaction of people is everything, it will always affect me. It doesn’t affect my vision of the film and what I think of the film. But it does affect me. You know, if it’s negative or aggressive or cruel or crude. Of course, I’m a human being.”

Since Dolan’s award winning debut I Killed My Mother in 2009 – a semi-autobiographical tale of a turbulent relation between parent and child whilst he navigates the peaks and troughs of adolescence – he is often asked about his real-life family dynamics.

“I don’t have a tormented relationship to family. I did have a complicated, let’s call it complicated, relationship to my mum. I don’t have a simple relationship with my dad. But I do have amazing cousins, aunts, uncles.

“I love family. I go to my family and we have dinner and we play games and we play cards. I’ve lived at my uncle’s and aunt’s and at my cousin’s house when I was in high school. I lived there for three years. And they were I think the best years of my life.”

The full interview with Dolan is available to listen to here.

Words: Paul Usher

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