Written and directed by François Ozon, when André, 85, has a stroke, Emmanuelle hurries to her father’s bedside. Sick and half-paralyzed in his hospital bed, he asks Emmanuelle to help him end his life, but how can you honor such a request when it’s your own father?. Starring: Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Géraldine Pailhas, Charlotte Rampling, Éric Caravaca, Hanna Schygulla and Grégory Gadebois.
A number of films have explored the issue of assisted suicide, from romance and comedies like Me Before You and Blackbird to harrowing dramas like Amour, but Everything Went Fine brings something new. It captures the serious nature of the subject while never giving in to it, it doesn’t become grim or heavy, it holds onto an everyday, relatable feel. Right from the beginning it has a sincere and natural charm, its characters all have strong and compelling personalities and it moves in a way that looks at the larger picture. It blends the father’s choice to end his life with reflecting on the daughters’ relationship with him. It manages to add a satisfying amount of layers, it’s just unfortunate that with so many references to their contentious childhood, it doesn’t provide much of an explanation. Despite that, it’s still feels genuine, it has a consistent sadness but at the same time holds onto a feeling of hope. Its method of dealing with the often debated ethics of the issue has a light touch, it’s an unusual choice but works very well and lets the focus stay on the characters.
Of course, a huge part of why these characters are so easy to watch is the superb performances from the entire cast. Sophie Marceau and Géraldine Pailhas create a sisterly relationship which is not often seen, clearly pitted against each other in childhood and yet they held onto a strong friendship. They present different personalities but also have much in common, and they have a great connection. André Dussollier similarly does a great job as their obstinate father, he brings the typical elements of frustration, anger and resignation but also a personality that’s a mix of charming and pointed. The three reveal a great deal of their relationship purely through the physical way in which they interact, it’s subtle and effective. Charlotte Rampling only appears briefly but it’s a strong performance regardless, she brings her typical sharpness, added with a cold edge, but interestingly also manages to get across a vulnerability and sadness.
François Ozon yet again brings his typically colourful and sharp style here. It’s stylish but understated, it’s intimate but not isolated, holding a sincere charm and endearing nature. It reveals a story of depth but never feels dense, there’s a surprising lightness to the way that it handles this story. That’s not to say it doesn’t entirely capture the undeniable sadness but it creates a beautiful balance, showing that illness and grief are experienced differently by each person. By doing so it allows the subject to be handled in a way which is not overwhelming but is intensely sympathetic and relatable.
Everything Went Fine looks at the subject of assisted suicide through a new perspective, rather than diving into the morals, ethics or harrowing nature, it keeps things in the everyday. It focuses on its characters and their relationships, creating a larger story of family. There are a few loose threads which could have rounded out the tale more succinctly but that doesn’t undermine its genuine charm. Lead by three fantastic performances from Sophie Marceau, Géraldine Pailhas and André Dussollier, it handles the issues at play with a relatable, light hand while being framed in a stunningly crisp aesthetic.