“Everything went well” by François Ozon treats with lightness the serious subject of assisted suicide

After pedophilia in the Church with In the name of the Father, François Ozon deals with the chosen death by adapting the eponymous autobiographical story by Emmanuel Bernheim Everything went well (Gallimard). Two societal subjects in the spotlight, the first approached with extreme seriousness, the second in a more relaxed manner, and served by a first-rate cast.

Struck down by a stroke at the age of 85, Emmanuèle’s father is hospitalized. Lover of life, great collector of art, and a little smug, he discovers that he is diminished and dependent, in a state which deprives him of his raison d’être. Not supporting his condition, he asks his daughter to help him die. More or less supported by her sister, Emmanuèle will respond to her request, while assisted suicide is punishable by law in France.

A prolific filmmaker, François Ozon has dabbled in comedy (Sitcom, Potiche), thriller (Swimming Pool) than romantic drama (Frantz). Jack of all trades, always elegant in his staging, accompanied by faithful actresses (Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier), the author-director has developed a recognizable and changing style according to his subjects. Going from lightness to gravity with astonishing ease, it combines the two in Everything went well.

This is the subject that we will mainly remember from Everything went well, and less its cinematographic qualities. François Ozon has accustomed us to inventiveness in this area, but the film of conventionally made, turns out to be a little poor from this point of view. Remains the bias of humor that runs through the film, in itself a choice of staging. A choice a little too pronounced perhaps. Because if François Ozon manages, thanks to this approach, to free himself from the pathos to which the subject lends itself, the last phase of the film leans a little too much towards the side of the comedy, mixed with a police suspense not necessarily relevant.

Géraldine Pailhas and Sophie Marceau in "Everything went well" by François Ozon (2021).  (CAROLE BETHUEL./ MANDARIN PRODUCTION / FOZ)

The events that Emmanuèle Bernheim relates in her story are found in the film, so it is their transposition to the screen that disappoints. The fact remains that the subject is above all a pretext to paint a gallery of portraits of great humanity, with an impressive André Dussollier in his role of always squeaky and conscious paraplegic, inhabited by unshakeable convictions. The inventiveness also comes from the character of Gérard (formidable Grégory Gadebois), whom the two sisters call “big shit“, a strange troublemaker who prevents everyone from going in circles, and whose mystery of origins and feelings spice up the story. Charlotte Rampling as a wife rejected by her husband, locked in a constant depression, completes a cast that works wonderfully And what about the happiness of finding the all too rare Hanna Schygulla in an unexpected role?

Sophie Marceau’s presence stems from the director’s desire to finally shoot with one of the best actresses in French cinema, he who has toured with Deneuve, Huppert, Rampling and revealed Ludivine Sagnier. By her side, Geraldine Pailhas remains in the shadows, a discreet presence that characterizes her acting register. At courage to approach without detour a subject still taboo, adds thishis great reunion of artists, the film’s main asset. François Ozon’s aim is not to take sides for or against assisted suicide, but to ask questions head-on in a distracting film, perhaps a little too much.

Poster of "All went well" by François Ozon (2021).  (CAROLE BETHUEL / DIAPHANA DISTRIBUTION)

Kind : Drama
Director : Francois Ozon
Actors : Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Géraldine Pailhas, Charlotte Rampling, Grégory Gadebois
Country : France
Duration : 1h53
Exit : September 22, 2021
Distributer : Diaphana Distribution

Synopsis : To 85 years old, Emmanuèle’s father is hospitalized after a stroke. When he wakes up, depressed and dependent, this curious about everything, passionately loving life man asks his daughter to help him die.

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