'Everything Went Fine's family entanglements

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday May 16, 2023
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Géraldine Pailhas and Sophie Marceau in "Everything Went Fine"
Géraldine Pailhas and Sophie Marceau in "Everything Went Fine"

Anyone with aging parents knows the fear of answering the kind of dreaded phone call that novelist Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau) receives at the beginning of queer filmmaker François Ozon's "Everything Went Fine" (Cohen Media Group). Emmanuèle's sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) calls to tell her that their almost 85-year-old art dealer father André (André Dussollier) has had a stroke and is in the emergency room of a Paris hospital.

After a series of tests, it's determined that André has multiple serious health issues, and the "risk of relapse is high." An extremely impatient man, André struggles with his condition, thinking nothing of taking his frustrations out on his dedicated daughters. His estranged sculptor wife Claude (Charlotte Rampling), who is dealing with her own declining health (Parkinson's and depression), has already written him off.

In brief flashbacks, we see what a terrible, verbally abusive father he was to Emmanuèle. Yet she remains dutiful, even when he tells her that he wants her aid in putting an end to his suffering.

Emmanuèle and Pascale are then faced with making the difficult decision about André's future, which is complicated by the good days/bad days of his convalescence. After doing research online, Emmanuèle determines that assisted suicide is illegal in France, but is a possibility in nearby Switzerland.

She reaches out to a nameless woman (Hanna Schygulla) affiliated with a death-with-dignity organization in Bern, and arrangements are made.

There are many obstacles along the way, some humorous, some serious. Simone (Judith Magre), a pushy cousin living in New York, tries to talk André out of it. The presence of André's insistent male ex-lover Gerard (Grégory Gadebois), whom Pascale refers to as her father's "gigolo," only muddles matters. Even André himself adds a delay when he asks to change the selected date so that he can attend his grandson's clarinet recital.

Once the plan is set in motion, a phone call from the police to the clinic where André has been recuperating¬¨ threatens to put a halt to everything they worked so hard to carefully plan. The sisters are interrogated by the police and then allowed to leave, just as André is on his way to Bern by ambulance.

Based on Emmanuèle Bernheim's autobiographical novel, "Everything Went Fine" takes place over the course of seven months. Bernheim, who has collaborated on screenplays for Ozon's "Swimming Pool," Under the Sand," and "Ricky," is given a respectable treatment with Ozon's adaptation.

While it lags in places, "Everything Is Fine" is saved by the first-rate performances by Marceau, Pailhas, Dussollier, Schygulla, and Rampling (who makes the most of her limited screen time, particularly in the scene in which Emmanuèle asks Claude why she stayed married to an unfaithful, gay husband).
In French with English subtitles. Rating: B


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