It’s Only the End of the World – Film Review
French title – Juste la fin du monde
Director: Xavier Dolan
Writers: Xavier Dolan (screenplay), Jean-Luc Lagarce (based on play by)
Stars: Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel.
In the opening moments of this film, we are told Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) is on his way home to visit his family for the first time in 12 years. There was no specific reason for his long absence other than he felt detached from them, like they were part of another world, one he has escaped. He has kept in fleeting contact with them since. He has an exuberant Mother (Nathalie Baye) and an older brother Antoine, played by Vincent Cassel. There’s also a younger sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux), who he hardly knows due to the age difference. He has just discovered that he is terminally ill and is now returning to tell them of his fate!
This is a Canadian-French film, which was converted from a play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce. The screen play was written by the director, Xavier Dolan. The film opened in Cannes last year to mixed reviews. This are possibly due to the weight of expectation heaped upon it, as Dolan had received high praise for his previous efforts such as Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme) and I Killed My Mother (J’ai tué ma mère).
The film has some great performances and characters. Nathalie Baye as the mother particularly catches the eye, and Vincent Cassel does an impressive job as the main character’s difficult and occasionally violent brother. You can feel his rage burning just below the surface at all times, waiting to explode. The main failing of the film is that it never really shakes off the format of the play it is based on. Very little actually happens other than a number of intimate discussions with the various members of his family. This is a relatively small complaint, in an otherwise enjoyable film. It aims to draw out the complicated relationships between the characters and does an impressive job at it. A film about the a man destined to die young may not appeal to those in need of diversion at the end of a long week, but if you’re looking for some quintessential French angst, there’s plenty here!