Grief encounter in Everything Went Fine

François Ozon’s moving, troubling film tells the story of a father who decides he wants to end his life

Thursday, 16th June — By Dan Carrier

Sophie Marceau and André Dussollier in Everything Went Fine

Sophie Marceau and André Dussollier

Directed by François Ozon
Certificate: 15

THE debate over assisted dying will never go away.

If laws catch up with the humanist reality of enshrining legal routes to end people’s suffering, using trusted medical means, there will always be others who believe the sanctity of life is such that no one has the right to end their lives, and no one should be able to assist a person in doing so.

François Ozon’s drama, based on a memoir by his late writing partner Emmanuele Bernheim, tells the story of Andre (Andre Dussolier). Andre has had a stroke. Paralysed on his right-hand side, he decides he wants to end his life and asks his oldest daughter Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau) to help.

Emmanuèle has to manage her emotions with fulfilling her father’s wishes. This logistical and moral dilemma is the base for Ozon to create a drama of relationships, grief, mourning and above all personal choice and responsibility to others.

We learn Andre has not been the best father, but has had his own troubles – a gay man in a heterosexual marriage, there are unsaid issues the family have not resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.

The agony of feeling unable to care for oneself, and rely on others, is writ large across every physical action Andre makes, and every expression highlights his sense of helplessness.

Ozon’s moving and thoughtful film is not arguing for a change in the law. Instead, it places the viewer in the shoes of the family, particularly the lead Emmanuèle, and poses the question as to how you would react.

The dynamics between the family – the levels of grief and how it is expressed – drives scenes, none more so when a representative from a clinic in Switzerland visits and describes how their father can take his life. Watching Andre speak German with the Austrian representative brings him alive again, telling unconsciously a life lived.

He proves his ability to take his own life by draining a glass of water, as if it were the poison administered. His daughter watches on in silence, aghast.

But then moments of the positive aspects of living-on come in. Andre almost teases his children, prolonging their agony, by saying he wants to stay alive long enough to see his grandson perform a piano recital.

Such moments offer his children hope, but he is firm he wants to die before he is incapable of deciding for himself.

This moving, troubling topic has been ably dealt with by Ozon. The issue at its heart will stay with you after the credits roll.

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