Everything Went Fine (2021)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5

Original Title: Tout s’est bien passé

/, 2021. , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Screenplay by François Ozon, , based on the novel by . Cinematography by . Produced by , . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Novelist Emmanuelle Bertheim’s memoir about taking care of her ailing father is turned into a riveting drama by director Francois Ozon, who brilliantly centres the controversial topic of assisted suicide within a touching, often subtly humorous tale of family relationships. Bertheim, played in this film by a magnificent , is called away from her writing desk when she learns that her father Andre () has suffered a stroke and has been taken to the emergency room. She and her sister Pascale (an equally superb ) keep watch over him in his intensely vulnerable state, Bertheim periodically flashing back to memories of her childhood when her hard-edged, exacting father was much younger and raised her solely through the miracle of that generation’s idea of reverse psychology (criticize or the child will be too soft!)

The lack of cushy sentimentality is one of the things that makes this film so satisfying to embrace and draws us into a deep sympathy for the characters, who remain supportive sisters to each other as the months draw on and their trials wear them down. Frequently staying by his side, constantly doing their best to grant his wishes but never spared his moodiness, they’re also anxious to keep on top of caring for their mother Claude (), who is herself giving into illness at her own advanced age. As we progress through Dussolier’s care, we learn snippets of the family’s biography that put together the pieces of how they relate to each other, though none are ever overstated: a couple of instances of the younger Andre calling Bertheim chubby and stupid tells us a lot about the personality she has had to make peace with in order to still love him in his old age, while his relationship with his wife, who was never deceived about his being gay but was likely worn down by a loneliness she didn’t predict in their marriage, is displayed solely through a subtle sense of Rampling’s worn-out demeanor.

Then comes the moment that explodes the daughters’ equilibrium and adds an even heavier burden than they have already been carrying: Andre doesn’t see what he is experiencing now as life, and does not want to wait until his illness kills him, he wants help ending it all right away. To do so would be to play with fire thanks to France’s very strong laws on the subject, requiring Bertheim to contact an organization in Switzerland run by a very helpful ex-magistrate (played by the always exquisite presence of ) who provides a game plan for how to make his wish come true.

A cantankerous old man, two daughters trying to grapple with an adulthood littered with bad childhood memories, and a third act crisis that has them all having to outsmart the police is mixed in with the emotional toll that all these experiences have on the two women at the centre of the story, who never resort to cheap melodramatic fury but always find ways to connect even when it is painful for them to do so. Ozon balances everything beautifully and moves through the story with a strength of pace that feels energetic but never rushed.

Cannes Film Festival: In Competition

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