Coming off the acclaim and success of 2014’s “Mommy,” filmmaker Xavier Dolan found he had access to bigger budgets, bigger actors, and bigger expectations. Resisting the opportunity to make his English language debut with Hollywood stars—that’s his next film (“The Death and Life of John F. Donovan”)—he chose to make a claustrophobic family drama about a terminally ill writer (Gaspard Ulliel) who plans to reveal his dire prognosis at a long overdue family reunion.
While we won’t reveal how this plan unravels, we can reveal these five things you need to know about “It’s Only the End of the World
1. It’s directed by a prolific Canadian
Québécois filmmaker Xavier Dolan may be the most productive twentysomething writer-director of all-time. Still just 27-years-old, he already has six feature films under his belt.
2. Dolan brought French superstars to Canada
While “It’s Only the End of the World” was shot entirely in Canada, Dolan decided to take a break from the French Canadian actors he’d worked with in the past, preferring to employ some of France’s biggest stars, including Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, and Léa Seydoux.
3. You’ll have to read between the lines
According to Dolan, the film’s source material (a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce) called for “a suffocating atmosphere,” as the characters are unable to express what’s going on inside of them. “What’s most gripping in Lagarce’s text is how nervous all the characters are and how they express things often that are very superficial or useless,” Dolan has said. “They talk about everything except what they really feel.”
4. It divided critics at Cannes
Unable to ignore the divided—and occasionally very negative—reactions that critics gave the film at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Dolan admitted he was “screaming inside” while reading the reviews. However, the film was soon redeemed when…
5. It won a major award
“It’s Only the End of the World” may have rubbed some critics the wrong way, but Dolan’s filmmaking peers had a very different reaction. When the festival’s awards were handed out, Dolan walked away with the Grand Prix, the award generally regarded as the festival’s second place prize.