Xavier Dolan may not be a household name yet, but the 25-year-old Quebecois filmmaker has been a major film festival presence and cinephile fascination since his 2009 breakthrough I Killed My Mother (which won three prizes at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and was Canada’s official Oscar submission for the Foreign Language category that year; Dolan was just 20 when that film premiered.) His latest film Mommy won the Jury Prize at Cannes this year and has earned Dolan additional raves, but it’s his upcoming feature that might gain the director his biggest booster to date, as it looks like Oscar nominated actress Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) will team with Dolan on his English language debut– The Life and Death of John F. Donovan.
What brought the two of them together? Twitter. “It was this friend of mine — a journalist — who had brought to my attention that Jessica Chastain had seen Mommy in Cannes and had liked it and tweeted about it,” commented Dolan. “I went back and scrolled down the tweets and there was this lovely tweet where Jessica was saying that she had liked Mommy.”
Completely blown away by @XDolan. His film, MOMMY was so impressive
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) May 22, 2014
The two are recently at the Toronto Film Festival, where Mommy is screening and Chastain was plugging her role in Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie. “It dawned on me that I should ask Jessica about playing the ‘villain’ role in John F. Donovan,” Dolan said.
The Life and Death of John F. Donovan (which is expected to start shooting in 2015 in Montreal, New York, Miami, England and Eastern Europe) certainly seems bound for larger American exposure than past Dolan projects. Mommy was picked up by Roadside Attractions following its premiere at Cannes, but a number of his other titles either haven’t had a released stateside at all, or have only been doled out in particularly small doses– his past films include Tom at the Farm (2013), Lawrence Anyways (2012) and Heartbeats (2010.) For each of his five features film, Dolan has served as director, writer, actor, editor and costume designer. There’s no word yet on whether the director will wear that many hats on John F. Donovan.
Chastain, like Dolan, has been extremely prolific lately and that doesn’t look to stop any time soon. The Zero Dark Thirty star has The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby arriving in art houses shortly as well as at least two more films on the way this year– Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year.
The Life and Death of John F. Donovan doesn’t appear to have a target release date, but expect the film to premiere at Cannes when it’s ready.