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everything went fine review
A woman attempts to fulfil her father's request for an assisted suicide.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: François Ozon

Starring: Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Géraldine Pailhas, Charlotte Rampling, Hanna Schygulla, Éric Caravaca, Grégory Gadebois

everything went fine poster

The French writer Emmanuèle Bernheim wrote two screenplays for the prolific director François Ozon – 2003's Swimming Pool and 2004's 5x2. Bernheim passed away in 2017, which meant Ozon was unable to allow her to adapt her novel 'Everything Went Well', which details her response to a request from her ailing father, a wealthy art collector, to assist in ending his life in the aftermath of a debilitating stroke. Just as Bernheim was entrusted with the responsibility of her father's death, Ozon finds himself taking on the duty of portraying her life.

everything went fine review

I'm sure Bernheim would be flattered that Ozon has chosen the glamorous Sophie Marceau to portray her screen version Manue, but Marceau brings far more than timeless beauty to what might be her finest ever performance. As Bernheim, Marceau brilliantly captures the tug of war between a daughter's heart and an intelligent, rational mind.

When her octogenarian father André (André Dussollier) - who came out of the closet after siring two daughters with his ex-wife Claude (Charlotte Rampling) - suffers a stroke, he finds his quality of life reduced and asks Manue to help kill him. Murdering her old man is something we're told she fantasised about as a younger woman, and in flashbacks we see André treat her with a cold cruelty, mocking her weight (we see the lingering effects of this in the gym-obsessed adult Manue, now boasting the body of an athlete).

everything went fine review

Despite her past troubles with the old man, Manue is taken aback by the request, but presses on in trying to fulfil his wishes. She comes into contact with a Swiss clinic (represented by Fassbinder muse Hanna Schygulla) where for a fee of €10,000, André can comfortably drift into one final slumber. Thanks to the trickiness of French law, it's not as simple as just driving across the border, and the more people André blabbers his intentions to, the more potential trouble Manue and her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) face.

Death might be the heaviest subject matter imaginable, but Ozon keeps things light without ever getting into sentimental territory. This is neither a lecture on the need to allow bodily autonomy or a debate on the ethics of the subject. It's simply a story of a daughter following her father's request, and whether she fully agrees with it or not is simply not up for debate here. While it avoids sentimentality, Ozon's film never lacks warmth. Much of this is due to the performance of Dussollier, who remains chirpy to the end, looking forward to his date with death the way a kid counts down the day to Christmas. While going along with his request, his daughters do all they can to delay the procedure in the hopes he might change his mind. Hearing of a man who changed his mind at the last minute while at the Swiss clinic because he saw his lover wearing a red dress, Manue dons a similar outfit, but of course, her father is gay, so she's barking up the wrong tree. A sandwich with a bite taken out of it by André serves as a visual representation of Manue's journey, moved from the fridge to the freezer before ultimately discarded in the trash.

everything went fine review

What's laudable about the film is how Ozon never asks us to take a side, and only those whose view on the matter is clouded by religious or philosophical beliefs will likely adopt one. It's ironic then that Ozon appears clouded by Bernheim's views on certain people in her life, resulting in characters getting a raw deal we're unsure they're deserving of. A former lover of André (Grégory Gadebois) is constantly badmouthed by the sisters and portrayed as a gold-digger. André's ex-wife is so ill-served that I'm not sure why she was included in the film at all, especially when she's played by an actress of the quality of Rampling. Despite a handful of flashbacks that portray him negatively, André comes across as a likeable old coot, which makes you wonder if such flashbacks were entirely necessary. Ozon clearly feels responsible for telling Bernheim's story, but I wonder how its supporting characters might feel about how he's characterised them here.

Everything Went Fine is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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