sat 20/07/2024

Everything Went Fine review - classy French family drama | reviews, news & interviews

Everything Went Fine review - classy French family drama

Everything Went Fine review - classy French family drama

François Ozon is on top form with this intimate portrait of a family facing a new reality

Father knows best?: Sophie Marceau and André Dussolier in 'Everything Went Fine'

French filmmakers do family dramas so well, and none better than François Ozon when he is on form, as he is on Everything Went Fine.

André (veteran charmer André Dussolier) is a wealthy industrialist and art dealer who, after suffering a debilitating stroke at the age of 85, has no wish to live a diminished life. His two daughters try to persuade him that the future still holds many pleasures, but over several months Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau) agrees to make the covert arrangements for her father to travel to Switzerland. Assisted suicide is outlawed in France.

The legendary Fassbinder star Hanna Schygulla appears in a cameo performance (pictured below, centre, with Geraldine Pailhas, left, and Sophie Marceau) as the serene intermediary from the euthanasia facility in Bern. While Emmanuèle and her sister Pascale (Geraldine Pailhas) argue about their father’s demands, their mother (played by Charlotte Rampling), a sculptress battling Parkinson’s herself, wants nothing to do with her estranged husband’s wishes. Over the course of the film, we learn why she’s so dismissive of her husband, and just what an impossible father he has been to his daughters. Everything Went FineOzon adapted the film from the eponymous novel-memoir by the late writer Emmanuèle Bernheim, whose father took this route himself; she worked with the director Claire Denis and scripted Ozon’s Swimming Pool and 5 x 2. This final posthumous collaboration with Ozon is a masterclass in how to create such dramas. In lesser hands, a film about a family debating euthanasia could be moralising and fraught with melodramatic scenes. But here we are presented with lucid, utterly convincing dialogue and a wonderfully complex portrait of family relationships.

There’s plenty of dry humour. André is horrified at the idea of being buried anywhere near his despised in-laws. He marvels at the high cost of his trip to Switzerland, wondering how poor people manage in his circumstances until Emmanuèle snaps, "They wait to die." Oblivious to his daughter’s irritation, André dismissively murmurs, "Oh, poor things". Dussolier, half his face seemingly paralysed, gives an extraordinarily convincing performance. Marceau is terrific as the exasperated Emmanuèle and very well supported by Pailhas and Rampling.

Everything Went Fine was beautifully filmed in a series of elegant Parisian interiors – luxe apartments, private hospitals, chic restaurants. Ozon uses subtle colour coding – glaucous blues, flashes of red – to create the milieu of an upper-class intellectual family with an imperious patriarch at its centre. 

The film would make an intriguing, if exhausting, double-bill with Florian Zeller’s Oscar-winning The Father, which trod similar ground in 2020. But where Zeller’s film was an adaptation of a play and occasionally turned didactic, Ozon is working from the messiness of Bernheim’s real life story, and its authenticity shines through. 

André Dussolier, half his face seemingly paralysed, gives an extraordinarily convincing performance


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters