The premiere of Francois Ozon’s new film “Everything Went Fine” took place at the Cannes Film Festival. The heroes of this family drama are the dying father Andre (Andre Dussollier) and his two daughters Emmanuel and Pascal (Sophie Marceau and Géraldine Pailhas). The film critic of “Mozenra” Jan Hazkevich tells why this one is the most optimistic among all the films about euthanasia, and its ending is perceived as a happy ending.
The most extraordinary thing about the new, twentieth film by Francois Ozon “Everything Went Fine” is its ordinariness, which sounds already in the title. Interesting is the evolution of an original author, whose reputation was created for a long time on the basis of shocking — up to the not so long ago, defiantly frank “L’Amant Double” (2017), which outraged many. Ozone seems to have changed dramatically, having crossed the threshold of the 50th anniversary. In his intonations, there was both ease and seriousness, the plots suddenly became strictly realistic, seasoned with clearly nostalgic notes. The visionary Ozon began to make films one after another based on real events. No matter how banal, maturity has come. Its fruits are “By the Grace of God” (2019), a study on child abuse in the Catholic Church, and “Summer of 85” (2020) — a poignant retro story about first love. Both are completely devoid of the director’s trademark features — detached humor and coldness.
“Everything Went Fine” is the best and most virtuosic film of this new Ozone. The first frame is already emblematic: we see the main character, Emmanuelle, inscribed in Mondrian’s immaculately designed interior, she is absorbed in her work. A phone call breaks the routine: her father Andre is in the hospital. Emmanuel rushes there, meets his sister Pascal at the door, together they are glued to the glass, behind which the doctors perform some manipulations on the motionless body. And then they wait for news in the corridor. The film seems to immediately forget about the desire for visual perfection and impeccable alignment — it begins to live, breathe, cough, cry, laugh, love and hate, like its characters, two adult sisters and their elderly father. It is filled with irrational details, like Andre’s sandwich, which the heroine keeps in the freezer. And we, too, are glued to the screen, obeying the rapid rhythm of the action, laughing at the inappropriate jokes of a paralyzed old man and crying to the piano sonatas of Brahms.
Ozon never sacrificed his author’s ambitions in the name of material, and the most venerable artists in his films (and it’s hard to remember those French stars with whom he would not work) became only elements of his recognizable world. The director borrowed the everyday universe of “Everything Went Fine” from the autobiographical book by Emmanuel Bername, on which the script is based — even the names, with rare exceptions, remained the same. Ozon worked with the writer more than once, she was his co-author in several films: “Under the Sand“, “Swimming Pool“, “Five Times Two“, “Ricky“. And her book about the death of her father was going to be adapted by another director — Alain Cavalier; plans were disrupted by the illness and death of Emmanuel, from which another Cavalier film was born — a documentary. “Everything Went Fine” was left to Ozon, for whom this project is special: a tribute to a loved one who recently passed away. Hence the special delicacy of intonation and the rich emotional palette of the film, in which there is no place for artificiality or falsehood.
Working with the actors in this film is also special, each of them is supposedly given more freedom than usual, allowed to search for and find defining features in the characters themselves, so that they come to life on the screen. Although the actors are outstanding. Of these, Ozon previously worked only with Géraldine Pailhas (Pascal) and, of course, his long-time favorite Charlotte Rampling, who masterfully played a small role of a cold, eternally depressed mother. The main weight fell on the shoulders of the other two performers-the legends of the author’s cinema, the favorite of Alain Rene and Eric Romer, 75 — year-old Andre Dussollier (Andre) and, of course, Sophie Marceau (Emmanuel), with a breathtaking naturalness passing through all stages of awareness of the tragedy, playing at the same time resentment and sympathy, old hatred and irresistible love for the old father-a narcissist and a rude man with an inimitable sense of humor. It seems that this is her best role.
“Everything Went Fine” – a film about the creative elite: Andre Bernheim was a famous collector, his wife Claude is a sculptor, their whole family is extremely prosperous, and her husband Emmanuel (excellent work by Eric Karavak) is the legendary film critic and curator Serge Tubiana. But for Ozone, this is nothing more than a background for a universal plot about the night that awaits us all, and the love that everyone desperately needs, even showing ostentatious cynicism. Nevertheless, the name does not lie: in a series of films about euthanasia, “Everything Went Fine” is the most optimistic and the least political.
The nameless heroine of Hanna Schygulla, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s favorite actress, who has always been a role model for Ozon and also once underwent an evolution from radical formalism to open sentimentality, leads the last path of an indomitable snob and skeptic, who during the film it is impossible not to be imbued with. However, one should not see in the choice of Schygulla an additional argument in favor of euthanasia, which, for example, is prohibited in France. The characters of the film are far from unanimous on a painful issue: even the driver of the Ambulance taking Andre to the place of death in Switzerland refuses to complete his route for religious reasons.
The director, however, achieves an amazing effect. No matter how the viewer treats euthanasia, he will inevitably perceive Andre’s voluntary departure as a happy ending. This result alone is enough reason for the public to go through a painful path together with Emmanuel and Pascal to the very end.