What a difference two years have made for young Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan. In the past year, the filmmaker (who is only 26 years old) premiered his fifth feature film Mommy in competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival (which won him a Jury Prize), signed on to direct an English-language debut with top American film actors, recently served as a jury member of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and is currently making a film starring Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard. That sounds pretty exhausting. And now comes word that Dolan’s fourth feature film, a thriller titled Tom at the Farm, is finally heading to U.S. theaters, nearly two years after the film made its world premiere at the 2013 Venice Film Festival.
Variety reported that budding indie distributor Amplify has acquired U.S. rights to the title and will open the film unrated in theaters and on VOD platforms beginning August 14, 2015. Dolan stars in the psychological thriller as Tom, a young Montreal native who travels to a rural part of Canada to attend his ex-boyfriend’s funeral. Tensions arise as he stays and grieves with the deceased man’s family, who was unaware of his sexual orientation. Dolan directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Michel Marc Bouchard. The film is based on Bouchard’s play.
Following Tom at the Farm‘s Venice Film Festival premiere (where the film earned strong reviews and won the FIPRESCI Prize), the film continued to play the film festival circuit (including the London Film Festival, AFI Fest, and Toronto Film Festival) and opened in most major parts of the world, excluding the U.S. Even Amplify head Dylan Marchetti noted he was taken aback that the film hadn’t secured U.S. distribution rights in the nearly two years since it made its official premiere. “I think it’s his most commercial film by far,” Marchetti commented. “I don’t know what everyone else was thinking. It’s smart, it’s sexy, it’s oddly dark. Audiences are going to respond.”
Still, this may be a better time for the film’s chances to succeed in the U.S., considering that Dolan’s profile has been on the rise stateside. Mommy, Dolan’s most recent film, opened rather modestly this past January by distributor Roadside Attractions but made an impression among critics and cinephiles and grossed nearly $3.5 million at the domestic box office, a decent showing for a French-language title. Mommy was also Canada’s official foreign film selection for last year’s Academy Awards. “It’s hard to say in a fully modest way, but I was truly puzzled as to how exactly Tom at the Farm never landed distribution in the U.S.,” Dolan said in a statement. “To me, it was by far my most accessible film. I mean, it’s a 90-minute psychological thriller, and it’s sort of gory, but then very conventional too. I’m obviously psyched that Amplify Releasing has taken Tom under their wing. But the topic remains truly relevant—can intolerance and psychological violence ever be dull? And I’m proud to know the American public will be able to see it. And hopefully, like it.”
That being said, it’s Dolan’s future output that may catapult the young filmmaker to the next level both stateside and abroad. He is currently filming the French-language drama It’s Only the End of the World starring international powerhouses Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Léa Seydoux (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Vincent Cassel (Black Swan). Following that, Dolan will make his English-language debut with the dark drama The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, starring Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year), Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), Susan Sarandon (Tammy), and Kathy Bates (Midnight in Paris).