Reviews by Joyce Glasser Everything went well (Tout s’est bien passé) Certificate 15, 113 minutes.
In our May review of whirl Gaspar Noé, 58, took up the subject of a couple who want to stay in their own home despite having Alzheimer’s (her) and heart problems (his). This month, Noés’ compatriot and contemporary François Ozon, 54, addresses elderly parents and the issue of euthanasia. It’s almost certainly a matter of age, but both French filmmakers, now at the top of their game, show that it can be done cinematically, and without sentimentality, let alone pathos.
Any film school that teaches a book-to-film adaptation course should have Ozon’s screenplay (with Philippe Piazzo) for Everything went wella faithful but somewhat unrecognizable adaptation of the (5×2, Swimming pool) autobiographical novel. Ozon’s insightful direction, tweaks to dialogue, expanded roles for supporting characters, wit, and perfect casting give this little book the weight of a rich, dense, and important epic.
Author Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau, la tree, The world is Not Enough), married and childless, and her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas, 5×2), who is married with two children, rushes to the hospital when he learns that his father, André Bernheim ( André Dussollier, Don’t tell anyone, Private fears in public places) is seriously ill after a stroke. André’s estranged sculptor Claude (Charlotte Rampling) has Parkinson’s and suffers from depression. Her subsequent bedside visit is brief.
In the first half of the film we follow in meticulous detail the life in Limbo of André’s two dutiful daughters-turned-carers. They fulfill their troubled father’s wishes and whims through his ups and downs in the hospital until he is discharged from the intensive care unit. As Emmanuèle later explained to the police, mitigatingly: “No one can deny my father anything.” Thanks to Dussollier’s great performance and make-up – he is 76 and looks like he does on screen, 88 – we witness his strategy of being charming, to groan, goad, bully, and then withdraw to get his way.
Through unobtrusive flashbacks, we see Emmanuèle, at psychologically opportune moments, recall how insensitive, judgmental, and controlling André was growing up, and we note that he hasn’t changed. A talented pianist, his parents pushed him into business, and as a successful industrialist, he earned enough to become a major art collector.
There are no flashbacks to show how André’s desire for a boy to replace the son the couple lost affected Emmanuèle. But we see her boxing, going to the gym, and listening to her father’s favorite Brahms concertos. And perhaps her decision not to have children with her kindhearted husband Serge (Éric Caravaca), a film programmer and museum curator, was a reaction to her own childhood.
The fact that André had children is more due to defiance than to the fact that André is gay. Such is the anger – against Claude’s parents, who disapproved of the marriage – that he initially refuses to be buried with his wife in Paris because it is their “terrible family plan”, but relents so that the grandchildren can visit him comfortably .
A subplot concerns André’s stormy lover Gérard (Grégory Gadebois). The two have fallen out, and André refuses to see him, but Gérard represents the kind of love that will do anything to keep André alive, unlike Emmanuèle, who expresses her love by making his wish gives to die with dignity.
During a visit to her father’s intensive care room, André grabs Emmanuèle’s hand and commands in a weak, tense voice, “I want you to help me finish this.” She is so shocked and frightened that she runs out of the hospital. This is the breaking point of the film. The second half speeds up and opens up without losing the procedural detail of the first half. Only now is the procedure the complex process of euthanasia.
What Ozon suggests, but doesn’t dramatize, is that André always had to be the first to travel somewhere or find out about something. He was so ambitious that if anyone – even his daughter – saw a movie in front of him, he would get pissed off. Realizing he would no longer be an influencer no doubt contributed to his radical decision.
The key character in this half is Die Schweizerin, from the clinic The Right to Die with Dignity in Switzerland, played by 78-year-old Hanna Schygulla, who was Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s muse in the 1970s. As Emmanuèle says to the Swiss: “He was a bad father. I wish I could have known him as a friend,” she replies, then help him – as a friend.”
The problem is, André is not only recovering, at least in the short term, but is so delighted that Emmanuèle is arranging his death that he wants to squeeze in as much life as possible before the end. When he found out the price of the Swiss trip, he reflected: “I wonder how poor people can afford it.” Emmanuèle replies demonstratively: “They are waiting for death.” “Poor things,” muses André. Later in the film, a Muslim ambulance driver tells André that what he is doing goes against his religion, while his black colleague asks, “Why do you want to do this Mr. Bernheim, life is so beautiful?”.
The film is not a handbook but rather the story of a wealthy, cultured and educated Jewish family’s experiences with euthanasia. In Ozone’s hands, the touchy subject becomes not only cinematic, but suspenseful, tearful and hilarious, while lifelong commitments keep delaying André’s death.
At one point in the tense circus surrounding the sisters, who are dragged into the police station, causing Serge to miss his Buñuel retrospective and hiding André in their apartment, this is reminiscent of Luis Buñuel’s social satire, The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie. In this semi-surrealist comedy, a group of upper-middle-class Parisians try, with constant interruptions, to dine together, but never quite succeed.
The sisters are hoping André will change his mind – the Swiss said a man decided to live after seeing his young wife in an expensive new dress. We too, Gerard too. But André, a true citizen, values his quality of life too much to even exist.
While the film stays true to the novel, Ozone’s subtle twists are everywhere. When André says goodbye to Pascale, he whispers: “Tell your sister that would be a good topic for one of her books.” This line is not in the book.
A wealthy French art collector wishes to die in a film so entertaining, rich and densely layered that it will make you want to see it twice.
Source link A wealthy French art collector wishes to die in a film so entertaining, rich and densely layered that it will make you want to see it twice.