Film review: Everything Went Fine

François Ozon’s candid and affecting study of complicated family ties and the realities of assisted dying

Hero image

Written and directed by French filmmaker François Ozon, Everything Went Fine (from 17 June, general release) is an emotionally restrained exploration of assisted dying and its impact on those involved, based on the memoir by Emmanuèle Bernheim. Sophie Marceau plays Emmanuèle, the daughter of André, a wealthy and well-connected man in his late eighties. Father and daughter have a strained relationship, marred by the emotional cruelty she suffered as a child – so much so that she used to entertain fantasies about killing him. It’s with grim irony then that when André suffers a stroke, he asks Emmanuèle to help him end his life.

André, with his sharp tongue and streak of misogyny, is a hard man to love. His own granddaughter admits he’s only interested in his grandson because “girls bore him” and he’s dismissive of his other daughter, let alone his ex-wife (Charlotte Rampling), who remains unmoved and uncaring about his predicament. Despite this, Ozon’s script and a brilliant performance by Andre Dussollier imbue a sense of tenderness towards the old man and you can understand why Emmanuèle agrees to help him with his final wish.

Indeed, what makes this film so watchable is André’s layered, complex personality. One minute you’re feeling his pain as he weeps at the thought of having to endure a life he is no longer interested in living, the next wincing at his callousness as he merrily toasts his last meal while his daughter rushes off to sob quietly.

There are some comedy moments delivered to lighten the mood and some tension along the way. We watch as Emmanuèle and her sister carefully navigate the legalities of what’s going to happen, only to be pulled in by the police when it comes to light that their father is taking an ambulance to Switzerland “to handle some affairs”.

There’s no moral debate about euthanasia presented here and no judgement made. André’s decision to die is ignited by his stroke but it’s not really about his ill health. Indeed, he starts improving as his appointed death date draws near. Instead, it’s his desire to take control and the fact that he can afford to do so that drives him on. “How do poor people do it?” he asks at one point. “They wait to die,” his daughter says. To which he replies: “Poor things.”

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Film review: Everything Went Fine

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.