Xavier the Great crushes Cannes skeptics

News: Xavier Dolan wins Grand Prix, Ecumenical Prize at Cannes 2016

Quebec’s golden boy picks up second-highest honour at Cannes, but his quest for the coveted golden palm continues, as does his battle with critics

By Katherine Monk

He didn’t win the Palme D’Or, but Xavier Dolan’s double win at this year’s Cannes Film Festival marks the best performance by a Canadian on the Croisette since Atom Egoyan scored a triple with The Sweet Hereafter back in 1997.

Dolan won the Grand Prix and the Ecumenical Prize for his latest film Juste la fin du mode (It’s Only the End of the World), a drama that follows a writer with a terminal illness on his final journey home. Based on the stage play by the late Jean-Luc Lagarce, It’s Only the End of the World is Dolan’s sixth feature, and fifth title to be invited to France’s red carpet extravaganza.

“Dolan’s two latest awards at Cannes are renewed recognition of his immense talent, of course, but also of the determined effort and sheer perseverance he has demonstrated from the outset,” said Telefilm Canada’s Executive Director Carolle Brabant.

“For all those reasons, he is a source of pride for us and for all Canadians. He also inspires emerging filmmakers, having shown that, with hard work and confidence, even the wildest dreams can come true. As he said in accepting the Jury Prize in 2014 for Mommy, ‘everything is possible for those who dream, dare, work and never give up.’”

Brabant’s comments were echoed by Dolan’s legion of devoted fans, including Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and actress Jessica Chastain, who congratulated Dolan on Twitter. But not everyone fell in love with the latest film from Canada’s self-possessed wunderkind.

The film’s premiere was met with a seven-minute standing ovation, but was panned at the press screening, where its tail credits were greeted with a chorus of boos. Variety deemed it “unbearable” and Indiewire said it was “the semblance of a substantial movie that never quite gets where it was supposed to go.”

As always, Dolan was defiant in the face of the naysayers. As he accepted the festival’s second-highest honour from countryman and juror Donald Sutherland, he said the jury validated his vision.

Speaking in French he said there were people in tears who were not affiliated with the film, and by all evidence, they were affected — and to him, that’s what matters most.

Not that it should matter at all. Dolan is already outpacing every filmmaker in his age group, as well as the larger talent pool, racking up festival and box office success and establishing himself as a singular voice on the world stage before the age of 30.

It’s a feat unparalleled since the early days of Orson Welles, who wrote and directed Citizen Kane — commonly considered the best film ever made — at the tender age of 24.

Dolan won’t take his eyes off the prize any time soon. He’s already in pre-production on his latest film, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan — developed with Jacob Tierney and featuring Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington, Natalie Portman and Jessica Chastain.

It’s Just the End of the World will open in North America this fall.


  • ATOM EGOYAN: The Sweet Hereafter (1997) – Grand Prix, Ecumenical Prize, FIPRESCI Prize, nominated for Palme D’Or; Exotica (1994) FIPRESCI, Nominated for Palme D’Or; Felicia’s Journey (1999), nominated Palme D’Or; Where the Truth Lies (2005) Nominated for Palme D’Or, Adoration (2008) Nominated Palme D’Or, won Ecumenical Prize; The Captive (2014) Nominated for Palme D’Or.
  • DAVID CRONENBERG: Crash (1996) Special Jury Prize, 2006 Golden Coach, nominated for Palme D’Or five times (A History of Violence, Crash, Maps to the Stars, Spider, Cosmopolis)
  • DENYS ARCAND: Les Invasions barbares (2003) Best screenplay, nominated for Palme D’or. Jesus de Montreal (1989) Jury Prize, Ecumenical Prize, nominated for Palme D’Or. Declin de l’empire americain (1986), FIPRESCI Prize.


Photo: Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard, Cannes 2016 (AP/ Thibault Camus)


2 Replies to "Xavier the Great crushes Cannes skeptics"

  • Joan Monk May 27, 2016 (7:32 am)

    good for our team .Well written Katherine.

    • EX-PRESS EDITOR May 27, 2016 (8:35 am)

      thanks Joan!

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