‘Everything Went Fine’: Marceau and Dussollier are more than fine in this challenging French family drama

“Everything Went Fine” (2021) – Emmanuele Bernheim (Sophie Marceau) is typing away on her PC in her Parisian apartment on an ordinary day when she’s interrupted by a call from her sister, Pascale (Geraldine Pailhas). 

Emmanuele immediately stands up and says, “Where are you?  Be right there.” 

She rushes out the door and heads down the stairs, which seem blurry because she forgets her contacts.  So, Mme Bernheim stops, marches back up the stairs, puts in her contacts, finally leaves her place, gets on the Metro, and is captured with worry. 

The 50-something siblings meet at the hospital. 

Their father, Andre (Andre Dussollier), suffered a stroke, and the 80-something senior is in bad shape.  The right side of his face is contorted.  He has trouble speaking, and his right arm is immobile. 

Thankfully, he’s stable. 

After a few days and Emmanuele’s frequent trips to visit her dad, he drops a bombshell by calming and clearly stating, “I want you to help me end it.”

End his life. 

Even though Andre is laid up in bed and feeling helpless, “Everything Went Fine” is about Emmanuele’s journey, a film based on the real Emmanuele Bernheim and her memoir.   Bernheim – a screenwriter who passed away in 2017 – co-wrote “Swimming Pool” (2003), “Five Times Two” (2004), and “Ricky” (2009) with writer/director Francois Ozon, who co-writes and directs this film adaptation of her book. 

Ozon mainly sets his movie in Paris, and Marceau’s Emmanuele doesn’t physically travel great distances except for an out-of-town getaway over a few days.  However, her father’s illness and morbid request have Emmanuele running the equivalent of an ultra-marathon to Toulouse.  She is mentally and physically exhausted as Ozon frequently shuffles Emmanuele back and forth between various medical facilities. 

It’s a bit dizzying for her and us, as doctors regularly update her about Andre’s improving health, while she knows his true wishes for assisted suicide.  In between stops at museums, her healthy relationship with her partner, Serge (Eric Caravaca), she carries the brunt of her father’s care and destiny.  Even though Pascale offers advice and a lending hand, she has motherly duties with her son, so Emmanuele leans into an unwanted lead role with her dad’s affairs. 

Emmanuele’s mother, Claude de Soria (Charlotte Rampling), is dealing with her own ailments and is largely absent from the movie (sorry, Rampling fans).  So, Emmanuele places herself within these tight emotional spots.  Ozon’s camera is unforgiving by frequently filming closeups in small rooms, where several long sequences feature father and daughter alone, their only companions are awkward silences and candid discourse.  These challenging moments are raw and inescapable for our lead, featured in nearly every scene, and Marceau and Dussollier deliver masterclass exchanges of discomfort throughout the 113-minute runtime. 

Meanwhile, the movie’s makeup department – a team of four – conjures up realistic effects to depict Andre’s affected facial features.  No question, Andre suffers tremendous turmoil, but since he’s incapacitated, the parent-child roles become reversed, which might sound familiar to many Generation X and Baby Boomer moviegoers who are currently managing or have managed the issues around aging mothers and fathers. 

To complicate matters, Ozon and co-writer Philippe Piazzo offer snippets of Emmanuele’s childhood with key flashbacks, revealing that Andre wasn’t the greatest of fathers.  No, young Emmanuele’s relationship with her dad wasn’t dreadful, but her emotional scars haven’t entirely healed either. “Everything Went Fine” is an ironic title for this story, but with life, we sometimes face massive obstacles, shrug our shoulders, and do our best.

Well, Sophie Marceau and Andre Dussollier are more than fine in this challenging and memorable French family drama.

3 out of 4 stars

Directed by:  Francois Ozon

Written by:  Francois Ozon and Philippe Piazzo, based on Emmanuele Bernheim’s memoir

Starring:  Sophie Marceau, Andre Dussollier, Geraldine Pailhas, and Charlotte Rampling

Runtime:  113 minutes

Images: France 2 Cinema

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