Blu-ray Review: Everything Went Fine

STUDIO: Cohen Media Group/Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Francois Ozon | CAST: Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Géraldine Pailhas, Charlotte Rampling, Éric Caravaca, Hanna Schygulla, Grégory Gadebois
RELEASE DATE: 5/16/23 | PRICE: DVD $13.99, Blu-ray $14.99
SPECS: NR | 112 mins | Foreign language drama | 1.85:1 | 5.1 Surround

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie   | Audio   | Video  | Overall  

One of the glorious things about the work of Francois Ozon is that he has both kept up a steady pace as a filmmaker (on a Woody Allen-like level of one film per year) and has moved back and forth between “fantasia” homages to classic genres or other filmmakers’ work (8 Women, In the House, Peter von Kant) and realistic dramas about contemporary couples and families. Everything Went Fine is one of the latter and is a wonderfully nuanced drama that deftly avoids the usual cliches of the tearjerker.

The plot is based on a memoir by the late author Emmanuèle Bernheim (who collaborated with Ozon on a few of his features) about her father’s assisted suicide. Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau, Beyond the Clouds) is depicted as struggling not only with her father’s request to end it all legally — which involves working with a  Swiss organization to avoid French laws against assisted suicide — but with her memories of her father (André Dussollier, Micmacs), who was stern to the point of being cruel to her as a child and adolescent.

This last aspect is one of several elements that distinguishes Everything from the run of the mill family drama. The fact that the father is a stroke victim makes him sympathetic; however, his brusque demeanor in the present tense and in flashbacks counteracts that and illustrates why Emmanuèle is conflicted about aiding him in his assisted suicide — which he doesn’t request, he demands.

Ozon’s script for the film is also uncommon, as it contains moments that touch viewers emotionally, but never once do they forget that the father isn’t the slightest bit worried about how his daughter might be arrested for participating in his plan (as assisted suicide is not legal in France). Throughout, Ozon focuses on the day-to-day details of Emmanuèle’s life, showing how her father’s request turns her routine upside down and brings up unpleasant memories of her childhood.

Each time there is a marked improvement in his condition, she and her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) hope that her father will reconsider but he doesn’t — as if his demand they help him die is the last of his uncaring cruelties to them. In the meantime, their mother (Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years) suffers with her own health dilemmas and pushes away any attempts to aid her.

The cast do much with their roles, especially Marceau, who is the heart and soul of the film. She perfectly conveys Emmanuèle’s contradictory emotions, showing how her love for her father triumphs over the many times he’s been verbally brutal with her.

Pailhas also registers as the sister, who is able to detach better than Emmanuèle. Dussollier, so elegant and classy in the later films of Alain Resnais, is cruelly effective here as the father.

And the two guest stars — both of whom have worked with Ozon previously — make their characters resonate despite relatively brief screen time. Ramping’s mother character is icy cold, yet we get the sense that her independence from her husband (whom she married knowing he was gay — the big secret in the family) is what taught her daughter how to deal with his verbal abuse.

Hanna Schygulla (Love Is Colder Than Death) also adds much to her character, a Swiss woman who runs an assisted suicide organization, who aids Emmanuèle in her quest to help her father and who calmly utters the title line in an emotionally charged moment.

Buy or Rent Everything Went Fine

About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”