Everything Went Fine [Tout s'est bien passé]

François Ozon
Release Year:
Length (mins):
France, Belgium
Sophie Marceau
Screening Date:
  • 6 Feb 2024
  • Categories:

    Filled with humanity and told with a light, unsentimental touch, Sophie Marceau stars as the dutiful daughter whose difficult, ailing father demands that she help end his life.

    What's this?
    F-Rated Bronze

    Film Notes

    ‘Everything Went Fine’ (‘Tout s’est bien passé’): Film Review | Cannes 2021.

    André Dussollier stars as a strong-willed octogenarian who asks his daughter, played by Sophie Marceau, to help end his life after a major stroke in François Ozon's assisted-suicide drama.

    François Ozon follows his darkly sensual melodrama about queer first love, Summer of 85, with a pivot back to sober dramatic territory in Everything Went Fine, which doubles as a gesture of gratitude toward the late novelist Emmanuèle Bernheim, his script collaborator on Under the SandSwimming Pool and 5×2. Taking a refreshingly frank, uncomplicated attitude to its fraught issues, the film stars Sophie Marceau in a compellingly grounded performance as Bernheim, asked to take on a role of tremendous moral and emotional weight by a man with whom she has always had a somewhat thorny relationship and yet finds impossible to deny.

    The other actor who elevates the intimate drama is veteran André Dussollier as Emmanuèle’s father, André Bernheim, a cultured art collector whose vitality continues to peek through his distress even after the stroke that leaves him semi-paralyzed. He makes the unbending decision to end his life rather than go on in a severely diminished condition. Having unapologetically entered into the bourgeois conventions of marriage and family while continuing to live openly as a gay man, André is a curious character, selfish in many ways but also uncompromising. Dussollier plays that double edge with a mischievous glint in his eye that erases sentimentality.

    Ozon can be an invigoratingly playful filmmaker but the virtue perhaps less appreciated about the prolific director’s work is its efficiency. His adaptation of Bernheim’s book is notable for the laser focus of its short, pared-down scenes, making this a social issues film more interested in subtly observed personal responses and family dynamics than the bigger ethical questions raised. Considering the subject matter, Everything Went Fine is not the most affecting drama, but its honesty and intelligence keep you glued.

    Emmanuèle gets a call that her 84-year-old father has been taken ill and rushes to the hospital, meeting her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) there just as André is being given an MRI to assess brain damage. The invasive noise of the machine seems a challenge to the sisters’ attempt to remain calm. When they finally get to see him, their father is feeble, teary and struggling to speak. But Emmanuèle insists that she’s not concerned: “He always recovers.”

    The sisters return next visit with their mother Claude (Charlotte Rampling, who did some of her best work of recent decades in Under the Sand and Swimming Pool). She suffers from chronic depression and Parkinson’s disease, though her absence of warmth for her husband would appear to be rooted elsewhere. “Your father doesn’t look so bad,” she tells Emmanuèle and Pascale, more dismissively than reassuringly, before instructing her nurse to get her out of there. Claude is a sculptress of some renown, who worked in concrete. Later in the film, when André is asked if he should consult her on his decision, he sniffs: “With her heart of cement, your mother’s already dead.”

    André is in and out of intensive care in the days that follow, but despite some signs of improvement, he tells Emmanuèle, “I want you to help me end it.” The doctor assures her that a death wish is common in such cases, and that the patients almost always choose life, but surrendering the will to live will hasten his decline. Flashbacks to childhood show André to have been an ambivalent parent to Emmanuèle, and Pascale suggests that since she often wished him dead, maybe their father has given her a gift. Just the fact that he chose one sister over the other to make such a demand seems indicative of a history of pitting them against one another.

    Added strain on the family relationships comes from the unwelcome appearance of a man named Gerard (Grégory Gadebois), or “shithead,” as he’s referred to by the sisters. Ozon teases out his connection to André, which is revealed without judgment, though it provides further evidence that he has looked after his own needs over those of his wife and daughters.

    While Emmanuèle keeps hoping that progress in her father’s recovery will lead him to change his mind, he’s a stubborn man and any reprieve is short-lived. She contacts a Swiss organization called The Right to Die with Dignity, and discussion of their fees yields an amusing class comment. “How do poor people do it?” asks André. “They wait to die,” responds Emmanuèle. Her contact is a soft-spoken German woman (the great Hanna Schygulla) who explains the procedure with tenderness and humanity.

    Complications surface when André reveals his intentions to his cousin Simone (Judith Magre) and she flies in from New York to remind him that he owes it to their relatives killed in the Holocaust to continue living. Also, a tip-off to the police that the family are preparing to act in violation of French law brings hitches, potential criminal charges and last-minute changes to the plan. But Ozon keeps this swerve into mild suspense consistent with the measured tone of the film throughout.

    There are gentle moments of happiness once André’s arrangements have been finalized — attending his grandson’s music recital, or dining at a favorite restaurant one last time with Emmanuèle and her husband Serge (Éric Caravaca), being fussed over by his regular waiter. (The writer’s partner until her death in 2017 was French film critic and former Cahiers du Cinéma editor Serge Toubiana.)

    The crisply shot film is characterized by its elegant simplicity, by the way it lays out something still widely perceived as a radical course of action while refusing to engage in hand-wringing. Instead, it quietly makes the case that everyone should have the right to end a life that has become unendurable. Dussollier deserves credit for declining to soften André’s abrasive edges, but the center of the drama is Marceau’s welcome return after a few years of relative quiet. She gives Emmanuèle a tough pragmatism that makes her moments of visible pain quite moving. This is not a major film for Ozon, but it’s a loving statement of compassion and solidarity for the fortitude of a departed friend.

    David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter, 7th July 2021.

    Everything Went Fine finds François Ozon at his most tender

    The industrious French auteur adopts a sparse, thoughtful approach to tell the tale of an old man tired of life and his strained family ties.

    • Reviewed from the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. 

    After the heartfelt but almost high-concept mise-en-abyme of Summer of 85 (2020), prolific French director François Ozon returns to a more grounded and realistic canvas with Everything Went Fine, adapted from a novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim. The writer, who died in 2017, penned the screenplays for Ozon’s Under the Sand (2000), Swimming Pool (2003), 5x2 (2004) and Ricky (2009), and the director’s affection for this frequent collaborator undoubtedly plays a part in the tenderness that permeates the film even in its most heart wrenching moments.

    This tenderness is in fact at the centre of the nexus of tensions animating a work that belongs to the quieter, more subdued side of Ozon’s varied filmography, even as it deals with incredibly dramatic life events. Sophie Marceau (radiant even when she has a cold) plays Emmanuèle, a stand-in for the author, whose book related her grappling with the consequences of her father’s stroke and his subsequent desire to end his life.

    The 85-year-old man seen here is cantankerous, casually cruel, sometimes violent and, in Emmanuèle’s own words, “not a good father”. But she loves him and, as portrayed by André Dussollier (a familiar, friendly face from the films of Alain Resnais), the charm in his dark sense of humour and frankness does come through. “I would have loved to be his friend,” Emmanuèle says, and it is in the murky waters between the things one expects from family and the less painful demands of friendship that Ozon chooses to linger.

    The stroke which paralyses much of the right side of her father’s body and his request that Emmanuèle help him die naturally bring up memories from her childhood and her times spent with her father. But rather than a nostalgic look back at happier times, the few flashbacks that punctuate the film are all examples of emotionally abusive and cold parenting, foundational wounds which the now grown-up Emmanuèle is clearly still hurting from. And yet, this isn’t a film about a daughter settling old scores with her old man before he passes away. Rather than evidence to be used against him to draw a kind of end-of-life balance sheet listing his good and bad deeds, these few glimpses in the rear view mirror are more like old reflexes and fixations which, although she can still feel their sting, Emmanuelle knows do not capture the whole truth.

    For a director who we know is capable of adopting a rather emphatic style, the sparseness in the details given of this family’s past feels intentional and refreshing. Ozon paints in just a few select brushstrokes a picture of difficult but nevertheless loving relationships that is just clear enough for the viewer to understand the complicated emotions – ranging from anger to disappointment, sadness to frustration, profound love to bitter hate – running through Emmanuèle.

    Ozon is careful not to turn the ailing father into a tyrannical caricature and is always precise in including moments of laughter and tenderness to break the tension. Although it is true that “you can’t refuse him anything,” this man isn’t a monster, and both Emmanuèle and her sister Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas) are mature and smart enough to understand the importance of respecting his wishes.

    This refusal to step outside of grey areas, while commendable, does make for some repetitions as the father continuously reiterates his desire to end everything even as his health improves. But Ozon’s films often have an aspirational quality and Everything Went Fine is no exception; the beautiful sweaters, the intellectual Parisian lifestyle, the receptions at art galleries and the delicious food at expensive restaurants form a comforting background to this painful story about letting go, a plush base of luxury that the film can always rely on in its less engaging moments.

    One could argue that the emotional restraint of its protagonists, their dignity in dealing with such a momentous event, is aspirational too. But Marceau’s performance, her character’s own health issues, the deep depression of her mother (Charlotte Rampling) and a mysterious man who hints at a whole other, quasi-secret life for the father suggest perhaps even deeper traumas haunting this family, who feel it is either too late to look down and try to face them, or simply too dangerous. The film’s title is therefore both sincere and bittersweet, a summary of the profound affection and of the compromises that make up often fraught but somehow loving family bonds.

    Elena Lazic, Sight & Sound, 8 July 2021.


    What you thought about Everything Went Fine [Tout s'est bien passé]

    Film Responses

    Excellent Good Average Poor Very Poor
    39 (66%) 18 (31%) 2 (3%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
    Total Number of Responses: 59
    Film Score (0-5): 4.63

    Collated Response Comments

    110 members and guests attended the screening of Everything Went Fine. We received 59 responses delivering a film score of 4.63 with a 54% response rate.

    This makes Everything went fine the MOST POPULAR FILM of the season, knocking Official Secrets (our opening film) from its perch since the season started.

    Again, we had some technical issues but the projectionists struggled on and we did see the film through to its conclusion. Thank you for your patience while we attempted to fix the problem. We are checking all remaining discs to ensure they all play correctly.

    Your collected comments are shown below.

    “The film was a little slow in the middle section and would have benefitted from tighter editing I think but overall, there were astoundingly good performances from Marceau and Dusollier. Since the subject is one that most people avoid discussing but is one that will affect many of us, this film is a welcome prompt to us not to ignore the wishes of those who are terminally ill or incapacitated”.

    “I don't know what it is about French films - a "je ne sais quoi" - but they have a very distinctive look and feel, and this was no exception. A story to which the audience can probably all relate, told with warmth, and humour, but very naturally and realistically. The two lead actors were brilliant, the camerawork beautiful and often subtle, the subtitles unintrusive yet legible. And I have a new heartthrob in Sophie Marceau. Hats off to the boys in the box for their persistence on a difficult night - it was the quality of the film we remembered on the way home, and not the breaks in transmission”.

    “Enjoyable film about a moving subject, with nice touches of humour towards the end. Would have been improved by exploring the moral / ethical dilemmas even more if the father character had been more sympathetic”.

    “A refreshingly unsentimental film as much about the family dynamics as the subject of assisted dying. The humorous bits were well-chosen and well-placed. Well-acted and beautiful looking”.

    “A precarious balancing act and a film of interesting contrasts. The structure is simple and brisk allowing the traumas of the past and deep, tangled web of love and pain to be guessed at, though little is ever explained. Is Emmanuèle's adolescent eating a substitute for love? Is her rigorous physical regime how she conquered it? And at what cost? Is André's thoughtless cruelty driven by a contempt for the society that forced him to bury his sexuality? To have the, to all appearances, callous, self-regarding, ego driven bully that is André played with humour, as he lies on his bed like a stranded grouper, is brave but true to life, requiring the subtlest of playing and could have gone horribly wrong in lesser hands. Especially in contrast to Emmanuele's deep seriousness, Marceau's face a sensitive palette for the conflicting emotions. It is only a shame that Charlotte Rampling did not get a bit more to do. I am sure it is a film that will have resonance for the majority of the GFS audience, the gravity of the subject never betrayed by the touches of humour”.

    “I would describe this film as 'Good' rather than 'Very Good' but that option isn't available! An interesting drama, with excellent acting. Some story lines that were not fully pursued e.g. we only get the slightest glimpses of Emmanuele's childhood. A very enjoyable evening and well done to the technician for persevering with a clearly problematic DVD. Thank you”.

    “Superb from all three leads and interesting that the director arranged a bit of farce towards the end to lighten the mood. l suppose Emmanuelle was too good to be true but I loved the character. Overall I think the issue was more incisively treated by Haneke in L'Amour (2012) but it is reassuring to see assisted dying being seriously in film. Who knows, we and the French might eventually enact a more grown-up set of arrangements where we don't inflict ourselves on the Swiss”.

    “Very moving and thoughtful…but too close to home, following my own stroke and subsequent health issues. Unable to tolerate the situation. Was glad of the technical interruptions to defuse the film for me!!”

    “Well done to the crew for getting us to the end of a compelling story about a complicated issue. Superb acting”.

    “Brilliant acting. Handling such a delicate situation with such feeling”.

    “A difficult subject very thoughtfully handled. Excellent acting from all the cast. So glad we managed to see it through to the end – as he did!”

    “Thought provoking and brilliantly acted. Many thanks for getting it sorted so we were able to watch the end”.

    “Beautiful film, stunning actors – so well done”.

    “Very good acting. Addressed a sensitive issue very well showing all the arguments for and against”.

    “Great performances. Shane about the Disc”.

    “Beautiful performances and story”.

    “A very good film and very well cast. Sorry for the person who was operating; it must be hard when it goes wrong!”

    “A rather lovely film”.

    “Some of the most stunning acting I have seen”.

    “Wonderful film. Amazing acting. Well done for making it happen in the end”.

    “Brilliant”.        “Wonderful”.

    “I thought this film portrayed the emotions and anxieties from all parties involved. Certainly, very topical at present with the Esther Rantzen campaign”.

    “I thought it was an excellent film with some excellent performances. Handled difficult topic sensitively and with humour in places and kept me guessing the ending right to the last”.

    “Pertinent to so many of us”.

    “A sensitive issue interestingly handled”.

    “Beautifully acted. Sensitively tackled with humorous moments”.

    “Very sensitively handled”.

    “Well acted –interesting character portrayals’ – strange that he seemed to be enjoying life more but still determined to go ahead”.

    “Too bad about the interruption. Excellent movie theme”.

    “An honest account of an impossibly difficult situation. Fill of the complex dynamics and of family life! Sensitively handled”.

    “Excellent performances. Shame about the projection”.

    Well done for solving the technical problems”.

    “Very powerful performances from both leading roles”.

    “Interesting how the French dialogue was so straightforward whereas an English film would have a lot of emotion and angst and wringing of hands”.

    “Excellent acting, good film. Very difficult topic. I was hoping he would change his mind”.



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