The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

critic Reviews

21% Rotten Tomatometer Score21%
  • The Death and Life of John F. Donovan finds writer-director Xavier Dolan flailing at profundity with a technically assured drama that never makes sense of its own ideas.
  • Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Marc RicovFilm Inquiry
    It's far from perfect, but still manages to be a fascinating attempt at exploring sexual identity, isolation and the consequences of fame.
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Tara McNamaraCommon Sense Media
    Convoluted gay-identity drama drags; drug abuse, smoking.
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  • Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Aitor SalinasEl antepenúltimo mohicano
    Its spectacularity is almost asphyxiating, but... each frame is also an excuse to plunge into the euphoria of its drama. [Full review in Spanish]
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Joey MagidsonHollywood News
    "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan" is a potentially powerful story, though one not successfully told in the slightest by Xavier Dolan.
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Todd JorgensonCinemalogue
    Intended as a complex examination of the emotional toll of celebrity, this drama instead feels as shallow and pretentious as the characters it portrays.
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Jeannette CatsoulisNew York Times
    From its contrived structure to its forced speechifying, this story... never acquires the emotional potency or coherence its themes demand.
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Mike D'AngeloAV Club
    In any case, what remains of John F. Donovan is a barely coherent mess, and so eager for your approval that it's hard to feel anything but sorry for it.
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Kevin N. LaforestExtra Beurre
    Dolan's most conventional film, and consequently the dullest. [Full review in French]
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  • Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Karen GordonOriginal Cin
    Even for someone like me who admires Dolan, the finished film is a bit of a mess. But it's kind of a beautiful mess, one that still has the power to be affecting.
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  • Rotten Tomatometer Score
    Chris BumbrayJoBlo's Movie Emporium
    The three-story narrative is the film's biggest misstep, by giving short shrift to what should have been the whole point of the film - the titular "death and life" of the main character.
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