Dolan plays almost every role except actor with new film 'Laurence Anyways'
MONTREAL - In his new movie "Laurence Anyways," Xavier Dolan plays almost every role except actor.
It's a switch from the Quebec filmmaker's two previous movies when he starred in front of the cameras.
This time out he was kept busy as executive producer, director, screenwriter, editor and even costume designer. He says the experience was exhausting, particularly during pre- and post-production, but it allowed him to keep a close eye on how the film was unspooling.
"I took the time, with each scene, to work with the actors, giving them notes," Dolan said in an interview. "When the camera was rolling, I was talking constantly. I never shut my mouth.
"It was pretty annoying to hear that in the editing and probably also for the actors," he added with a smile.
Dolan had the idea for "Laurence Anyways" while shooting his first film, "I Killed My Mother," which came out in 2009. But the idea wasn't formed enough to use for his second film and instead he made 2010's "Heartbeats."
Dolan said he believes he was right to let "Laurence Anyways" simmer a little longer instead of rushing it into production.
"It could have been a disaster for it to be the second (film)," he said. "We weren't ready. It would have been night and day."
Producer Lyse Lafontaine agreed.
"I find his whole visual style grew in 'Heartbeats.' He gained experience. 'Laurence Anyways' is a very ambitious movie.
"His (film) technique has become sharper," she said. "Not the actual dialogue — that he's always done well," she added. "But his cinematic technique has become extremely sophisticated."
"Laurence Anyways" explores familiar themes from other Dolan films — individuality, marginalization and the pursuit of unattainable love. He gives things an added twist this time, however, by throwing an exploration of transsexuality into the mix.
The film, which spans a decade, follows Laurence (Melvil Poupard) and Fred, played by Suzanne Clement, and how their romance is turned upside down when Laurence announces he wants to become a woman.
"Laurence is certainly the most 'straight' guys of the gang in the film," observed Dolan. "But he's the one who obviously seems to have the biggest problem with identity. . . .This is a guy who wants a normal life, and society has a problem with that.
"I think people who are different are marginalized and they are pushed to become marginal when all they really are is just different.''
Dolan hasn't hidden his disappointment that the movie has been excluded from official competition at the prestigious Cannes film festival. It will instead be shown in the ''Un certain regard'' section, a non-competitive category that will still lead to significant exposure among distributors.
In any event, Dolan says he's happy with his new baby, which has its premiere in Montreal on Monday.
"I'm proud of the emotion in this film," he said. "I wanted it to be emotional and people who have seen it say it is. I'm proud of that."
Its general release in Quebec is set for May 18, the same day it gets its first showing in Cannes.