THIS latest offering from acclaimed film director Francois Ozon is a powerful examination of the hoops people (and their families) must go through before a wish to have an assisted death is granted. Hurdles that can divide family and friends – and cast those involved as potential criminals.
At times, the film feels more like a thriller as family members’ motives come under close scrutiny. The viewer is often left wondering whether heartfelt wishes will be thwarted by a mix of faith, love and intervention by suspicious people in positions of authority.
Based on a true story, taken from a book written by Emmanuele Bernheim (sadly, no longer with us), it charts her father’s seven month journey from having a stroke to travelling to Switzerland in order to end his life on his terms.
The two central characters are Emmanuele (an assured Sophie Marceau) and father Andre (a marvellous Andre Dussollier).
The story begins with Emmanuele, an author, receiving a call informing her that her father has had a stroke. She rushes to the hospital meeting her sister Pascale (Geraldine Pailhas) outside.
Andre is 84, has been a successful businessman, and is married to sculptress Claude de Soria (Charlotte Rampling) who has major health issues of her own. Yet that is only half of Andre’s story. He’s cussed, strong-willed and a homosexual who doesn’t hide his affections under a bushel. A lover, Gerard, looms large in his life – an individual that the sisters refer to as Shithead – and he continues to stalk Andre even as he embarks upon a difficult and at times traumatic recovery.
Although Andre does indeed make a partial recovery, he’s determined to end his life on his terms – but with Emmanuele providing a large helping hand.
Painful to watch? Not really. This is as much a film about sibling rivalry, religion, society’s changing attitude to homosexuality, evolving relationships between children and their parents (Andre didn’t like Emmanuele as a child because she ate too much) – than it is about the current debate whether we should more embrace assisted suicide.
While Marceau and Dussollier rightly steal the show, there’s plenty of cameo performance that catch the eye. Rampling says little, but her Claude is as steely as they come. She is not to be messed with – anger rather than blood flows through her veins.
Hanna Schygulla, who plays the Swiss lady responsible for looking after Andre in Switzerland, exudes kindness. Gregory Gadebois’s Gerard is as cheeky as he is mischievous – while Emmanuele’s husband Serge is played with gentle kindness by Eric Caravaca.
Everything Will Be Fine is more about love than death. There’s humour to compensate for watching the humiliation that Andre faces battling with the aftermath of a destructive stroke.
It’s also a strong advert for seriously ill people to be given the right to choose when they take their last breath on mother earth.