Everything Went Fine is showing in cinemas nationwide from June 17th.
From the moment we are born, there are few certainties in life, but death is one we all share. For many of us, our first experience of death comes through the loss of a pet or the devastating departure of a loving grandparent. But despite the inevitability of death, we are often reluctant to talk about it openly or define our own wishes the older we get. So let me ask a direct question: How do you want to die?
It’s a tricky question and one we would often rather ignore. For most of us, as we age, we take comfort that we will fall asleep at a ripe old age and never wake up, drifting peacefully into the unknown. But the reality is that this is a pipe dream for most of us, with our final days marred by illness, fragility or hospital care. Therefore, do we not have a duty to voice what we want to ourselves and others? And should we be far more open in discussing our wishes with the loved ones we may leave behind?
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These questions surround François Ozon’s Everything Went Fine, as Ozon explores the final months of one man’s life and the decisions he takes as his body fails. Ozon’s film is wrapped in challenging questions about individual wishes and state control as he explores assisted dying through a father and daughter’s eyes. But morbidity is nowhere to be found in Ozon’s adaptation of Emmanuèle Bernheim’s memoir Tout s’est bien passé (Everything Went Fine). Instead, we are offered a beautiful exploration of death, love, and individual choice that ebbs and flows with emotion, drama and humour while asking us one simple question: What would you do?
Emmanuèlle (Sophie Marceau) has just received an urgent phone call, the type of call we all dread as our parent’s age; her father, André (André Dussollier), has had a stroke. As Emmanuèlle and her sister, Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas), arrive at their father’s bedside, they are told the prognosis is not dire, but he may never talk again, his recovery likely to be long and arduous. As time passes, André begins to slowly recover, regaining his speech and some movement. But when he tells Emmanuèlle that he wishes to end his life and wants her assistance in making this a reality, Emmanuèlle’s world is thrown into uncertainty. Does she honour her father’s wishes and help him, despite laws against assisted dying in France, or does she try and persuade him otherwise.
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Through flashbacks, Ozon offers us a portrait of Emmanuele’s tricky relationship with her father and her mother, Claude (Charlotte Rampling), who has little affection for her husband and is struggling with Parkinson’s. Here we are offered a complex portrait of family life, showing how André’s actions were often self-centred with little thought for his family. For example, his sexuality was kept hidden from those he loved before finding expression in later life, while his stubbornness and emotional gameplay often drove a wedge between his daughters. Here Emmanuele’s conflicted emotions and patience are bound in a love that hasn’t been easy to maintain as she attempts to understand the man behind the aloof father and the confrontational husband.
There are no grandiose political statements or Hollywood-inspired emotional hooks in the story that unfolds. Instead, we are offered a series of poignant moments, from André’s half-eaten sandwich being held as a souvenir by Emmanuele to a series of beautiful scenes reflecting the love between two sisters and a family meal where André gushes over the handsome waiter. Meanwhile, Ozon’s connection to Bernheim (a long-time collaborator up to her death in 2017) adds layers of emotional depth to the story, while performances from Marceau, Dussollier and Pailhas are simply divine. Here Everything Went Fine shines with the artistic beauty of French cinema at its very best as we witness two sisters face the ultimate decision – to love, honour and support their father’s choice, or turn away in fear.
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Morbidity is nowhere to be found in Ozon’s adaptation of Emmanuèle Bernheim’s memoir Tout s’est bien passé (Everything Went Fine). Instead, we are offered a beautiful exploration of death, love, and individual choice that ebbs and flows with emotion, drama and humour while asking us one simple question: What would you do?