With New Series Debuting in Canada, Out Filmmaker Xavier Dolan Hints at Retirement

Sunday December 18, 2022
Originally published on November 23, 2022

Xavier Dolan
Xavier Dolan  (Source:Instagram)

Xavier Dolan arrived on the movie scene as a force to be reckoned with. That was in 2009 when the now 33-year-old writer/director/actor/producer arrived at the Cannes Film Festival with his first feature "I Killed My Mother" ("J'ai tué ma mère"). The loosely autobiographical feature won three awards from the Director's Fortnight program at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and thrust the Montreal-based filmmaker into the international limelight.

Since then, Dolan has made nine films, including additional Cannes awards for "Laurence Anyways" (the Queer Palm) in 2012, "Mommy" (the Jury Prize) in 2014, and "It's Only the End of the World," (Grand Prize) in 2016. But despite his accolades, Dolan has yet to have a major international hit. His first English-language film "The Death & Life of John F. Donovan," released in 2018, features a starry cast Kit Harington, Jacob Tremblay, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Thandiwe Newton, and Ben Schnetzer (with Jessica Chastain left on cutting room floor), but received poor reviews and limited distribution.

Dolan's career began when he was a child in 1997 at the age of eight. He has appeared in five of his films ("I Killed My Mother," "Hearbeats" (2010), "Laurence Anyway" (2012), "Tom at the Farm" ("Tom à la ferme," 2013), and "Matthias & Maxime" (2019), as well as such commercial, English-language projects as "Boy Erased," "Bad Times at the El Royale," and "It Chapter Two." He also is one of Canada's leading dubbing artists.

But with his latest project — a five-hour, episodic television drama called "The Night Where Laurier Gaudreault Woke Up" — hitting Canadian streaming services this week, Dolan is saying he may retire from directing.

"I really gave myself 200% in a whole, passionate and even aggressive way in this project," he told the French-language newspaper Le Journal de Montreal in a recent interview. "But at the same time, I don't really want to do this job anymore. I'm tired. We are in 2022, and the world has changed drastically. Me, in that world, I no longer necessarily feel the need to tell stories and to relate to myself. I want to take time to be with my friends and my family. I want to shoot commercials and build myself a house in the country one day when I have enough money saved. I don't say that in a sad way at all. I just want to live something else, other experiences."

Adding that he had a "blast" while shooting the project, it is the other production stages that are draining him.

"If I could shoot a movie or a series and disappear afterwards, I would do it," he added. "But we know that before filming, there is preparation and then there are all the stages of post-production. I don't think I'm really cut out for that anymore."

He also mentions how the release of his past two features, "My Life with John F. Donovan" and "Matthias and Maxime," within a month of each other cancelled each other out, in his estimation.

"The fact of having released 'Donovan' a month before 'Matthias and Maxime,' it killed the two films," he laments. "Of course you don't spend all that time making a film by the sweat of your brow so that only five people can see it!"


"The Night Where Laurier Gaudreault Woke Up" tells the story of a friendly trio made up of Mireille, her brother Julien and their best friend Laurier, a trio that is suddenly broken up one night in October 1991. Thirty years later, Mireille, who has become a thanatologist, returns to his family to embalm his mother, and then awakens old family demons.

Of the project, Dolan says: "It is not insignificant if there is in this series a reflection on life, death, mourning, redemption, the family. It is a fairly global and existential work. And maybe that's my way of saying goodbye for a little while..."

Check out pics from Dolan's Instagram: