Dolan shoots in tightly held close-ups, forgoing spatial staging for the immediate pleasures of fabric and light. Whereas similar imagery filled his previous films with energy and life, here it just makes the somber piece feel more claustrophobic and inert.
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Unfortunately, because it's so cinematically inert, all that craft and talent seems wasted. Let's hope his next film sees him working on another Dolan original.
The film’s dialogue has ample tang of real family discourse, but it often fails to rivet.
[Dolan's] crafted the semblance of a substantial movie that never quite gets where it was supposed to go.
While he does, to an extent, stifle some of his more adolescent instincts in comparison to earlier films (e.g. Laurence Anyways and Mommy), Dolan generally appears to have mistaken maturity for joylessness.
Having recruited as fine a cast of French-speaking thesps as has ever been assembled, and marshalled a strong behind-the-camera team, Dolan’s usually exuberant egotism is here taken so seriously that what we’re left with is a shrieking bore, without a single character worth rooting for, least of all the puddle of maudlin self-pity at its center.
The material is weak, overly familiar and cliché-ridden. Dolan throws the cinematic sink at it but his latest feels like a shorter, not particularly watchable sequel to August, Osage County.
The director finds himself stymied by weak source material — Jean-Luc Lagarce's 1990 play about a young man who returns home to tell his family he's dying — and only intermittently well served by his starry French cast.
Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World is histrionic and claustrophobic: deliberately oppressive and pretty well pop-eyed in its madness – and yet a brilliant, stylised and hallucinatory evocation of family dysfunction.
The experience is frequently infuriating, but it’s quite clearly supposed to be – it’s about hell being the other people in your own family.