Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
Original title: Juste La Fin Du Monde
Canada/France, 2016. Sons of Manual, MK2 Productions, France 2 Cinema, 120 Films, Canal+, Centre National du Cinema et de L’Image Animee, Cine+, Fonds Quebecor, France Televisions, The Harold Greenberg Fund, Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication, My Unity Production, Radio Canada, Societe de Developpement des Entreprises Culturelles, Super Ecran, Telefilm Canada. Screenplay by Xavier Dolan, based on the play by Jean-Luc Lagarce. Cinematography by Andre Turpin. Produced by Sylvain Corbeil, Xavier Dolan, Nancy Grant, Elisha Karmitz, Nathanael Karmitz, Michel Merkt. Music by Gabriel Yared. Production Design by Colombe Raby. Costume Design by Sophie Beasse. Film Editing by Xavier Dolan. Cannes Film Festival 2016. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
Gaspard Ulliel is heading home to his exasperating mother (Nathalie Baye), boorish brother (Vincent Cassel) and rebellious sister (Léa Seydoux) to deliver some big news: he is dying. When he arrives, he meets his sister in law (Marion Cotillard) and is immediately set upon by the others who have a world’s worth of emotions to unleash upon him and each other. A long history of frustration, guilt and resentment is referenced but rarely specified in Xavier Dolan’s dowdy adaptation of a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce: it seems that Ulliel has avoided being close with his relatives, but there’s also the feeling that he’s had reason to strike out on his own and stay away from them for so long, but the details remain hazy throughout. Assembling a first-rate cast of France’s biggest stars, Dolan stymies them with unimaginative staging and a script that, in trying to underplay everything, ends up saying far too little. Long conversations that travel in small, repetitive orbits give a feeling of inescapable misery that, thanks to the film being much shorter than Dolan’s sometimes indulgent running times, isn’t excruciating to sit through but is surprising for how few rewards it offers. The actors, given very little story to tell by the material, end up falling back on mannerisms that make even someone as incredible as Baye come off somewhat amateur, while the aspects of Dolan’s films that are usually the most grating, his penchant for shouting matches and too many musical montage sequences, are a relief here for providing the only times the narrative actually reveals something tangible. It’s not really a bad movie, but it’s a surprisingly empty one.