Everything Went Fine by François Ozon is a tender, darkly humorous look at euthanasia and family relationships.
Right to Chooseby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
This is not the euthanasia film you might expect. Though of course, being by François Ozon, it is sophisticated and masterfully made, it handles a difficult subject in a matter-of-fact and darkly humorous, almost procedural, way. It is set in the well-heeled bourgeouis creative Parisian intelligensia world of gallery previews, concerts and restaurants.
When 85-year-old André Bernheim (André Dussollier) has a stroke, his daughter Emmanuèle (Manue) (Sophie Marceau) gets the phone call every child with an elderly parent dreads. André is hospitalised, paralysed on his right side and barely able to speak.
Manue and her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) have a close relationship so they share the burden but it is Manue that André asks to help him end his life so that he can die with dignity – he’s basically tired of life. And she can’t refuse.
André is not at all lovable. In fact, he has a knack of making cutting remarks to Manue: fleeting flashbacks of her as a child show this was always so. His wife (Charlotte Rampling), a sculptress suffering from Parkinson’s and dementia, actively dislikes him and it seems, though this is not explained, that he has always had homosexual lovers during their marriage, the latest ex, Gérard (Grégory Gadebois), still causing awkward scenes.
Yet André’s daughters love him and the film shows over time the efforts Manue makes to grant his wish to die, the practical and procedural difficulties she overcomes, and the wider effect this has on the sisters’ families.
Even though everything is delayed so long that André’s health starts to improve and he is able to move to a nursing home, he is still adamant he wants to die and that Manue should make it happen. Eventually, arrangements for euthanasia are made with a Swiss clinic, which – another complication – is potentially illegal in France.
François Ozon’s film is adapted from his longtime collaborateur Emmanuèle Bernheim’s memoir of the same title. She died in 2017. Everything Went Fine is an unmawkish, naturalistic look at how a family deals with a situation that none of them wants to be in. All the performances are excellent. Sophie Marceau is moving as she finds herself having to do something from love that she does not want to do. In her reluctance to let her father go, and despite his taunting of her, touchingly she preserves in her fridge the last sandwich he took a bite from.
Everything Went Fine – a bittersweet title – is all the more effective for its understatement in avoiding the moral arguments about euthanasia and having its dramatic emotions so pared down.
Since his debut in 1998, François Ozon has directed 20 features and many other short films. He worked with giants of French cinema, including Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant, Isabelle Huppert, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Gerard Depardieu. Even Sam Neill and Charlotte Rampling crossed paths with him. He has never won a major prize in any of the top film festivals but has been nominated countless times and remains a household name in modern French cinema.
Everything Went Fine premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and is released on 17 June 2022 in cinemas in the UK and on Curzon Home Cinema @CurzonFilm