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

2:51 | Trailer
A decade after the death of an American television star, a young actor reminisces about the written correspondence he shared with him, as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives.


Xavier Dolan
3,977 ( 364)
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kit Harington ... John F. Donovan
Natalie Portman ... Sam Turner
Jacob Tremblay ... Rupert Turner
Susan Sarandon ... Grace Donovan
Kathy Bates ... Barbara Haggermaker
Ben Schnetzer ... Rupert Turner (21 Y.O.)
Thandie Newton ... Journalist
Jared Keeso ... James Donovan
Chris Zylka ... Will Jefford Jr.
Amara Karan ... Mrs. Kureishi
Emily Hampshire ... Amy Bosworth
Michael Gambon ... Man in Diner
Sarah Gadon ... Liz Jones
Susan Almgren Susan Almgren ... Aunt Faith
Jane Wheeler Jane Wheeler ... Aunt Anne
Learn more

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout and some sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Theatrical movie debut of Dakota Taylor (Connor Jefford). See more »


Sam Turner: You are never to write to that man again, do you understand?
See more »


Silent Machine
Written by Cat Power
Performed by Cat Power
See more »

User Reviews

Fed up of stereotyped reviews
11 April 2020 | by mrcstellaSee all my reviews

You know what? If you don't like Xavier Dolan and/or don't appreciate his work, please do not watch this movie; and, above all, don't do reviews.

After watching this movie, I surfed the net - moved only by curiosity -to look for reviews. And, what I mostly found, even from the most qualified and acclaimed reviewers, is a sort of standardized analysis, gravitating around usual Dolan's logos (as unfortunately they use to say): Dolan always talks about his himself, mothers, homosexuality.

So what? Even if these items seem to be recurring in his works, couldn't they be considered as tools, keys he uses for opening the door of his inner world? Everybody use tools, why Dolan should not be allowed to use his? Why don't start from different angles in analyzing what flows before our eyes ?

If we look at things always in the same way, with the corrective lenses of prejudgement, we lose the freedom of observing things the way they are/could be, because we look at them only in the way we would like them to be.

This movie has a lot to say not only about the director himself- of course it does, he's one of the writers- (by the way, the direction is great and beautifully crafted, and emphasizes events and emotions; Kit Harington, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon and the kid, Jacob Tremblay, offer beautiful acting performances) - but also it tells a lot about ourselves, humans beings always looking for something to relieve our mal de vivre; always looking for others approval, always deeply involved in an unbalanced balance between joy and despere. Yes, mothers, gays, and children too -people - in a carousel of feelings and emotions.

I stop here. There are many things this movie talks about, many clues to investigate, many paths to follow: I leave you, sensitive people, the pleasure of discovery.

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Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]


UK | Canada


English | Czech

Release Date:

13 December 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Death & Life of John F. Donovan See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,340, 25 August 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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