Director Xavier Dolan has gained a reputation for his style-saturated films, which often divide critics but have allowed him to become the fastest-rising star at the Cannes Film Festival.
At just 25 years old, Dolan brought his third film to Cannes, earning the jury prize for Mommy (in a tie with Jean-Luc Godard‘s Goodbye to Language).
Mommy was loved by both the jury and (most) critics alike, with THR‘s Stephen Dalton writing: “Dolan’s fifth feature feels like a strong step forward, striking his most considered balance yet between style and substance, drama-queen posturing and real heartfelt depth.”
When he sat down with THR for an interview in Cannes ahead of his jury prize win, the Canadian director told THR that he was very determined to make sure the story of the film came first, with style second.
“For me, Mommy was about developing very humane characters that would be very credible and endearing and work onscreen,” said Dolan. The film, starring Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clement, centers on a working-class Montreal single mother and her teenage son.
“Style is just secondary. I think of Mommy as very simplistic, or not simplistic, but I wish for the style to actually work with what you see onscreen, and what you feel in that very moment,” he added. “I hope we did not disrespect the characters by being too flamboyant when it’s not necessary.”
Dolan — who has had three previous films in Cannes, in the Directors’ Fortnight and Un Certain Regard sections, as well as one in competition in Venice just last year — gave an emotional speech when he was honored with the jury prize on Saturday. He specifically thanked jury president Jane Campion for the influence The Piano has had on his work, inspiring him to write roles for strong women, “not victims, not objects.”
As for what he did while he was at the festival, the Cannes vet was pretty candid: “Party, party, party, go, go, go.”
Watch THR‘s interview with Dolan above, and go here for more interviews from Cannes.