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The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018)

A decade after the death of an American TV star, a young actor reminisces the written correspondence he shared with him, as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives.


Xavier Dolan
1,713 ( 6)
1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Natalie Portman ... Sam Turner
Jacob Tremblay ... Rupert Turner
Thandie Newton ... Audrey Newhouse
Kit Harington ... John F. Donovan
Emily Hampshire ... Amy Bosworth
Sarah Gadon ... Liz Jones
Jared Keeso ... James Donovan
Susan Sarandon ... Grace Donovan
Michael Gambon ... Narrator
Kathy Bates ... Barbara Haggermaker
Ben Schnetzer ... Rupert Turner (Adult)
Amara Karan ... Mrs. Kureishi
Chris Zylka ... Will Jefford Jr.
Ari Millen ... Big Billy
Hannah Banks ... Barista


A decade after the death of an American TV star, a young actor reminisces the written correspondence he shared with him, as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Canada | UK



Release Date:

7 March 2019 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Džono F. Donovano gyvenimas ir mirtis See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes three Oscar winners, Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon, and Natalie Portman. See more »


Referenced in The Art of Directing: Xavier Dolan (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

Avoid at all costs!
15 September 2018 | by JameGumbisSilentSee all my reviews

This may be the single worst film I have ever seen. I'm not talking about films that are meant to be bad or low budget garbage with unknown amateur actors, but films that are meant to be earnest and well intentioned, with a good cast.

Boring, pretentious, and pointless cannot even begin to describe how bad this movie is. I started looking at my watch 20 minutes in wondering how much longer I would have to sit through this. I have never walked out of a film in my life but this made me come close. I stayed just just out of spite, wondering if somehow it would come together in the end and redeem itself. But it wasn't meant to be. My friend who dragged me to the screening at TIFF apologized and paid for an expensive dinner afterwards in penance.

Susan Sarandon as Kit's mother and Kathy Bates as his manager gave good performances in their limited screen time and any time they appeared on screen was the only time the movie showed any life at all. Natalie Portman's wig gave a better performance than she did. Kit Harrington seemed to sleepwalk through his role. And Jacob Tremblay, so good in his debut with Brie Larson in "Room", seems to be regressing as an actor as he grows older, unless it was the director who told him to overact as much as possible.

This has definite potential to be a midnight cult "so bad its hilarious" movie in the vein of Tommy Wiseau's "The Room".

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