A bland title – much like a bland line of conversation – can hide an abyss the way a household fridge can hide a corpse. François Ozon is a master at this kind of observational understatement that touches on something deeper. For instance, in his new film Everything Went Fine – based on Emmanuèle Bernheim’s novel of the same name – it is the fine details, the banal, the ordinary, the minutiae that holds weight, that pieces together the bigger picture of human life like tiles in a mosaic.
Sophie Marceau stars as Emmanuele, a novelist who – along with her sister (Geraldine Pailhas) – have to confront their father’s mortality when he suffers a stroke. She is busy writing when she gets the phone call. She’s halfway down the stairs when she realizes everything is blurry and she must dash back to the flat to put her contact lenses in. Such is life and such is the approach to death as well. We are constantly hampered by details, that are frustrating even as they are vital.
The father, André (André Dussollier), is a physical wreck, and Emmanuele must contend not only with his current state but also with her own childhood relationship with him. He was and is a brash, entitled man, who has obviously treated his wife and their mother (Charlotte Rampling) dreadfully. It’s apparent that his sexuality was ambivalent and a former lover Gerard (Gregory Gadebois) lurks in the background. Emmanuele feels her father’s brusque judgements – he throws idiot around like it’s a term of endearment – but when he asks her to help him die, it will be the greatest test of her love and loyalty.
There is something effortless about the film which matches its characters privileged upper class milieu. Every bookshelf is weighted with books; every four star restaurant has a favourite waiter who knows your wine. On the mention of Bunuel, Père lauds the one “where the kids beat up the beggar”. Like he’s putting the boar in bourgeoisie. Even the weighty topic of euthanasia suddenly seems more like a family joke. There are cousins to be avoided, placated, police to be evaded and elevators and wheelchairs to be somehow combined. This aloof comedy is not without its touching moments. The performances are pitch perfect, particularly that of Marceau, who is superb in riding through the conflicts of the situation and the moments when the strong emotions riding over the niceties finally come to the fore.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty