People love to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to new, young, hotshot directors, especially if they happen to have the looks to boot. But Xavier Dolan, the director of Heartbeats and the soon-to-be released Laurence Anyways, really does have it in spades. Here’s why we think he’s one of the finest things to come out of Canada in the last few years… Represent.
He’s got great taste in music.
Wes Anderson is known for packing his films with cool music (Elliott Smith, The Velvet Underground, etc.), with songs often used in their entirety. But Dolan digs a little deeper and finds the enigmatic gems you’ve probably never heard of. Case in point: Fever Ray’s ‘Keep The Streets Empty For Me’ from Heartbeats (above) – or had you already heard of that one? If so, you’re ahead of us, so congrats.
The kid’s got visual flare.
Whether you like his films or not, you can’t deny their in-your-face visuals, which are unmistakably his own: vivid, lush reds, sleek slow-motion shots, symmetrical tracking shots of characters walking. One of the only comparable directors that springs to mind is designer-turned-director Tom Ford, whose A Single Man was lauded and reviled in equal measure for its immaculate design – some said it looked like a perfume ad. Dolan must know how he feels, having had similar criticisms levelled against his own work… Man, being a fashionista must really suck.
It’s all about the (hip) kids.
Unlike fellow Canadian Sarah Polley, whose Away With Her was a story that focussed almost entirely on an elderly couple, Dolan has pointed his camera almost exclusively at his generation – youth, that is. Call it self-indulgent if you want but the guy knows his stuff when it comes to young love, trendy fashions and youth culture in general. But be warned: if you recoil irritably in your seat at the thought of watching hipster characters for 90 minutes, you’ll probably detest the entire oeuvre of Xavier Dolan. Just a word of warning.
He’s an original cinematic voice.
You can’t say this of many directors, but there really is no-one like Xavier Dolan; his style and the worlds he creates are truly his own. Watching this trailer for his latest, Laurence Anyways, you can see, again, the use of cool electro pop, bright colours and themes relating to sexuality and youth… We’re hyped to get back into his universe again.
He’s up there with the Canadian greats.
Sandwiched between Sarah Polley and David Cronenberg is Xavier Dolan, who, just a few years ago, put his name on the map and became one of the ‘hot’ names to look out for on the festival circuit. The question now is how will his work, centred around young people as it is, develop as he matures? Either way we want to stick around to find out.
Follow Oliver on Twitter: @OliverLunn.