Richard "Bugs" Burnett's national column and blog on LGBTQ life and culture across Canada and around the world
Friday, 26 August 2016
LES AMOURS IMAGINAIRES: XAVIER DOLAN ON CANNES, SEX AND PORN
Xavier Dolan (Photo by Shayne Laverdière / courtesy Agence Goodwin)
Bugs' interview with Xavier Dolan originally ran inHour magazine on June 10, 2010
Not only did 21-year-old Montreal film wunderkind Xavier Dolan find himself rubbing elbows with filmmaking royalty at last month’s 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival, but his new film, Les Amours imaginaires, part of Cannes’ Official Selection, got a standing ovation following a packed screening at the Salle Debussy.
Dolan drank it all in.
"I was at Cannes for 10 days, did 160 interviews, drank too much alcohol and smoked too many cigarettes!" he laughs. "[Then] I had this Cannes glamour moment where at some mini-shindig I walked into some bar with Benicio Del Toro and this French actress, and suddenly my life changed. These people were [no longer up] on the screen. They’re chatting with you and you’re talking to them about cinema and your life and their life and you’re laughing [together]!"
"I don’t want to make it sound shallow, but I felt like part of a family."
Cannes loved Dolan so much that, after awarding him three prizes last year for his 2009 debut feature film J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), his new film Les Amours imaginaires (awkwardly named Heartbeats in English) was invited to compete in the festival’s Un Certain Regard competition, parallel to the Palme d’Or, competing against Socialisme, a film by one of Dolan’s heroes, the legendary Jean-Luc Godard.
"I was more comfortable at Cannes this year, less afraid and less nervous," says Dolan.
Then he walked away with this year’s Regards Jeunes prize.
Les Amours imaginaires tells the story of a love triangle of two Montrealers (Dolan and Monica Chokri) lusting after the same young man (Niels Schneider, who resemblesTwilight‘s Robert Pattinson). Dolan is such a good director that people tend to forget he’s a pretty good actor too. The son of Quebec actor Manuel Tadros, Dolan learnt his chops as a child actor in such films as La Forteresse suspendue and TV series likeOmertà, la loi du silence. Now all grown up, Les Amours imaginaires features a very memorable scene where Dolan sniffs Niels Schneider’s T-shirt while masturbating.
"It wasn’t a hard scene to do. I love that scene! And we filmed it in a very simple way, a one-shot deal!" Dolan laughs at his own joke. "It wasn’t a closed set [because] I wasn’t showing my dick. I wasn’t really doing it! I was just rubbing myself. I didn’t have to abandon myself. It was just another scene that took maybe an hour."
Here I’m reminded of Dolan’s recent and pretty explicit interview with NYC-based Butt magazine, whom he told, "I’m open to everything. I did gangbangs, straight and gay. Wait, they were orgies, actually. They were more free-spirited and spontaneous. And smaller."
So I ask Dolan if he enjoys porn.
"Of course I enjoy porn, like all people who feel alone in love."
This is a recurring theme with Dolan – and not just in his new film. Dolan also told Butt mag, "I’ve been a lonely person for years."
But are boys throwing themselves at his feet?
Dolan looks at me. "Well, yes and no."
Now I’m reminded of another Montreal enfant terrible, Rufus Wainwright, who was also a forlorn precocious young buck when he started out years ago. Dolan isn’t exactly directing the movie of his life, but he knows exactly what and what not to say.
"I answered [Butt magazine's] questions with no filter," Dolan says. "It’s not about being politically correct – it’s about not wanting to deal with shit. It was a Butt magazine interview, not The Globe and Mail! It’s not the same audience."
When I interviewed Dolan last year after he returned from his first trip to Cannes, both he and I were momentarily stunned to discover Dolan was born the very same day that Dawson student and gay activist Joe Rose was stabbed to death by homophobic thugs on a Montreal city bus, on March 20, 1989.
It’s remarkable because the tragic murder of Rose helped shape gay activism in this city for years. Twenty years later, about the gay-bashing scene in his J’ai tué ma mere, Dolan said, "Some people complained that the scene came out of nowhere, but it is the best-filmed scene in the movie because that’s how gay-bashings happen – out of the blue. A friend of mine was gay-bashed at three o’clock in the afternoon on Jean-Talon Boulevard! There is still danger today for gay people, even in broad daylight."