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The Saturday Profile: He Wanted to Escape His Childhood. Now, It Fuels His Art.

After Mr. Dolan was catapulted to cinematic fame with “I Killed My Mother,” he made a raft of French-language films, including “Laurence Anyways,” an ill-fated love story featuring a transgender schoolteacher. In his most critically acclaimed movie, “Mommy,” which shared the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2014, a mother played by his muse, the Quebecer actress Anne Dorval, tries to tame her violent son.

Unifying nearly all of his films are strong-willed but vulnerable female characters who provide succor to emotionally wounded sons. “I was brought up by women. I never had a father figure,” Mr. Dolan said. “Of course, there is a part of my mother in these strong women, and of course, there is a part of me.”

While his films can divide critics, they seldom leave the viewer indifferent. His last film, “It’s Only the End of the World,” about a gay man who comes home to his family in rural France to tell them that he is dying, was booed at Cannes in 2016, but won the Grand Prix. More than a year later, Mr. Dolan is still smarting from the eviscerating criticism (the film, with A-list French actors such as Marion Cotillard, is hard to watch, and it deals an emotional body blow, with characters who brutally turn on one another).

“I still feel scared to disappoint people and to be criticized or mocked,” he reflects. “I wasn’t like that before.”

Mr. Dolan admits that his romantic life has been largely devoid of longer-term relationships because he tends to be attracted to unattainable heterosexual men. His latest crush is Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau. In the same way, he said, he really made friends only in his late 20s, after an adolescence consumed by work.

“The love stories that I have found that are reciprocal are in movies,” he said, with more than a hint of wistfulness.

His next film, “Matt and Max,” recounts the story of two heterosexual male 20-somethings who share a kiss, and the impact it has on their lives. After a slew of thoughtful films with gay themes, such as Call Me by Your Name” and God’s Own Country,” Mr. Dolan said he wanted to reflect on unrequited love — his unrequited love.

As I am leaving, he suddenly stops me and looks me in the eye. “I don’t want you to think my parents were monsters,” he said. “My childhood really wasn’t that bad.”

Source: NYT > World

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