Everything Went Fine (Tout S’est Bien Passe) is the latest film by acclaimed French film director and writer Francois Ozon. Part of France’s ‘New Wave’ group of directors, Ozon is known for beautiful films with a free-wheeling attitude to human sexuality. Death is also a recurring theme and Everything Went Fine follows in this vein as he dives into the world of euthanasia and assisted dying.
Bisexual Andre (the veteran actor Andre Dussollier) is the cantankerous patriarch of a creative French family in Paris. He’s involved in the art world. His depressed, almost non-verbal, estranged ex-wife (a brilliant Charlotte Rampling) is a sculptor and his daughters Emmanuele (Sophie Marceau) and Pascale (Geraldine Pailhas) are respectively involved in writing and classical music. One day the 85-year-old has a stroke and ends up in the hospital. His ex-wife couldn’t care less and Pascale has two young children so it falls on Emmanuele to carry the weight of most of the never-ending hospital visits on the long road to recovery. She enters the grey limbo-land of caring for a sick parent which isn’t made easier by her father’s rough-shod controlling attitude to her. Flashbacks to her childhood reveal this has been a lifelong part of their relationship.
Andre’s condition improves but at a very slow rate. He loses the will to carry on living and asks Emmanuelle to help him die. This triggers a complex set of emotions in the family. Would you assist a parent in dying? Pascale reminds Emmanuelle that she often wanted her rather cruel father dead when she was younger. Emmanuelle discusses the situation with Andre’s nurses and their family lawyer. The hospital agrees to increase his anti-depressants to counter his thoughts on death and the lawyer informs her that assisted dying is illegal in France, although is possible in Switzerland.
Andre’s mood improves but he is still adamant about managing his death, so Emmanuelle reluctantly contacts a clinic in Switzerland to begin the process. The arrangements begin although the controlling Andre postpones his death day a few times. Complications arise when Andre starts telling some of his friends and family about his plans, and various people raise objections. One of them, Gerard, (a brilliant Gregory Gadebois) a bullish, violent ex-boyfriend of Andre’s, is distraught at the news and creates some havoc at the hospital as he tries to manage the situation. The police also get involved as someone informs them about Andre’s plans. Will he be able to fulfill his wishes?
Ozon’s film is an in-depth, thought-provoking study of the end of life. Rarely analyzed in detail in film, the subject matter is tough but presented carefully. The themes of controlling parents’ assisted death and fluid sexuality blend together well. The glimpses of the family’s creative worlds soften the harshness of the hospital and clinic scenes. Dussollier and Marceu give particularly fine performances and anyone who has ever experienced a controlling parent or the end of life of a parent will connect to this well-measured film.
Opening in US movie theaters soon
Queerguru’s Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah