Dallas Buyers Club and Big Little Lies director Jean-Marc Vallée dies

The 58-year-old Quebec filmmaker died in his chalet. Spotted with CRAZY, he had directed Matthew McConaughey on the road to the Oscars before signing one of HBO’s iconic psychological thrillers.

The world of cinema is in shock. Director Jean-Marc Vallée, one of the most prominent Canadian talents in Hollywood, passed away this weekend. The Quebecer was 58 years old. No details have filtered out on the cause of his death. The director was in his chalet. Born in Montreal in 1963, Jean-Marc Vallée was noticed in 1995 with his first film entitled Blacklist. Nine times nominated for the Canadian Geniuses (the equivalent of the Caesar), the thriller tells the dilemmas of a judge to whom a prostitute handed over her compromising list of elite clients. The western follows Los Locos and the tale of revenge Loser Love.

The CRAZY tidal wave

The international consecration arrives in 2005 with the moving LGBT initiatory story CRAZY, portrait of a homosexual boy growing up in a conservative family in the years 1960 to 1970 and seeking to retain the affection of his father whom he idolizes. Jean-Marc Vallée is writing and directing. The film ravages the box office – it is estimated that one in eight Quebecers has discovered it in theaters – and Les Génies where it collects fifteen trophies.

Driven by this success, Jean-Marc Vallée sees himself opening the doors to the English-speaking 7th art. He signed in 2009 The young years of a queen in which Emily Blunt plays a passionate and loving Queen Victoria. Then Jean-Marc Vallée makes a detour via France where he signs Café de Flore. Vanessa Paradis plays a mother refusing to send her child with Down’s syndrome to a center. In 2013 comes the acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club on the ravages of AIDS and the fight of American patients in the mid-1980s to obtain drugs and acquire the first foreign antiretrovirals. Unrecognizable and emaciated, Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey will win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor.

Jean-Marc Vallée continues to bring luck to his performers with Wild, road trip based on a true story. Reese Witherspoon in search of self after the death of her mother, played by Laura Dern, walks along the West Coast of the United States. The actresses are nominated for the Oscars. Demolition, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts on the rebirth of a bereaved banker, is greeted more discreetly.

With Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman after Big Little Lies’ Golden Globes triumph. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

In 2017, Jean-Marc Vallée gives an HBO series its most prestigious cast by bringing together Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley in the series Big Little Lies, deceptive portrait of wealthy bourgeois women from Monterrey. Beneath a seemingly perfect life boils frustration and suffering. There is also a question of domestic violence. The acclaimed soap opera, overseen by veteran David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal), confirms the growing attraction exerted by the small screen on superstars and directors, from the cinema. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon snatch statuettes galore.

A camera that enters the psyches

Jean-Marc Vallée imposes his distinctive style: a montage of subliminal and disjointed images to suggest the shock between repressed memories and the present. The feeling of unease never goes away. “Jean-Marc had bet on authenticity, doing things differently ”, recalled his co-producer, Nathan Ross. “The maestro will be missed, but the beauty of his style and the power of his work will survive him.”

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A visual grammar reaffirmed even if it slipped towards horror and Gothic in the dark and sticky Sharp Objects released in 2018. This new adaptation of a successful novel (On my skin by Gillian Flynn), still for HBO, gives Amy Adams one of her most disturbing roles as a journalist lacking inspiration. Carried on the bottle and self-harm, the heroine reluctantly returns to the village of her childhood to investigate a bloody murder.

I was worried that I wouldn’t do justice to Gillian flynn and his heroine. Camille is an omnipresent narrator whose voice-over guides us. How do you transpose to the screen, in particular her relationship with the words she engraves on her skin? So we enter his thoughts, his dreams, nightmares, his fantasies through flashes», Deciphered Jean-Marc Vallée in Figaro at the launch of the miniseries.

In 2019, Jean-Marc Vallée took back the reins of the second season of Big Little Lies where Meryl Streep appeared. The vision of the British Andrea Arnold, chosen to carry out this new series of episodes, having displeased. He was also working on another project for HBO, The Gorilla and the Bird. In these memoirs, lawyer Zack McDermott spoke of the mentally ill clients he had accompanied before he himself experienced a psychotic episode. No actor was yet announced on this miniseries. The pay channel declared itself “Shocked by the announcement of sudden death” of his collaborator.


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