François Ozon’s latest feature is one with a truly personal connection to the filmmaker, based on the memoir of his late writing partner Emmanuèle Bernheim (collaborator on the sublime Swimming Pool and 5×2). With a screenplay adapted by Ozon, Everything Went Fine centres on the challenging question of is it possible to support assisted suicide when one’s own loved one is involved? With a cast headed by Sophie Marceau and André Dussollier, Everything Went Fine presents Ozon at his best, presenting a gently touching family drama that captures a complex spread of human emotion over a challenging subject matter.
Elderly art collection André (Dussollier) suffers a stroke, drastically damaging his quality of life. Deciding to end his life via medically assisted suicide, André recruits his initially hesitant daughter Emmanuèle (Marceau) who eventually comes around to supporting her father’s wishes. Faced with organising her father’s last remaining days, Emmanuèle is filled with heartbreak and resentment, navigating the present and past memories of her strict, distant father.
Whilst Everything Went Fine is predominantly centred on present events, Ozon’s narrative dips into minor flashbacks exploring Emmanuèle’s relationship with her father. A portrait of André as unsupportive and cantankerous, with a distant relationship to his daughters Emmanuèle and Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) is quickly built up. A broken relationship with former wife Claude is also explored in a small cameo role for the British actress Charlotte Rampling also. This demeanour of André’s is explored in present day scenes with the pensioner confined to a hospital bed, unable to exercise a sense of independence in basic facilities such as eating, drinking and going to the bathroom – all of which have a devastating blow to the fiercely proud man.
Dussollier’s performance is an impressive feat, with the French star portraying the ill-tempered father yet injecting the role with a sense of wit and compassion. Scenes packed with an authentic human touch help the viewer engage and support André’s wish – seeing the previously refined man broken down after soiling the bed or pushed to extremes due to his weakness and vulnerability, can be challenging to witness. An impressive juxtaposition is carried in the role of Emmanuèle, initially resistant to support her father’s wishes – butting heads with André – yet witnessing his condition and gradually beginning to drive his assisted suicide forward. Moments of physical recovery deliver some false hope to Emmanuèle and Pascale, clinging to any shred that their father will change his mind.
Marceau dazzles in capturing Emmanuèle’s inner conflict – haunted by memories of her father’s unkindness, yet navigating the strength of familial love; not wanting to lose her father, but pained by seeing him as a shell of his former self. The actress embodies these conflicts in a beautifully complex performance, with a naturalistic subtlety and charisma. As the narrative proceeds, light comic touches are interspersed with the emotive sadness and quiet contemplative tone – all tied together in a poignant conclusion.
Ozon crafts a compelling and authentic glimpse of the tough realities of André’s decisions. With the daughters often pushed to breaking point by his blasé discussions of ending his life, Ozon fills Everything Went Fine with numerous small, moments with a bold emotional impact such as Emmanuèle’s last meal with her father or definite conversations with Swiss euthanasia centre staff.
Everything Went Fine navigates its tonal shifts well – this is by no means a sombre watch, with Ozon crafting vibrant characters and light humorous touches amidst the elegiac reflections on matters of life and death. A spellbinding turn from Sophie Marceau and outstanding appearance from André Dussollier ensure we are with Everything Went Fine each step of the way.