Everything went well | François Ozon in the running for the Palme d’Or

(Cannes) For the fourth time in competition in Cannes, the French filmmaker François Ozon offered at the Croisette Everything went well, the vibrant portrait of a father, André Dussollier, who asks his daughter, Sophie Marceau, to help him die.

Presented for the second day of the competition, this bittersweet drama, the work of one of the most prolific French filmmakers – around twenty films in as many years – but always left empty-handed from his Cannes selections, is based on is based on a universal and still taboo theme: the end of life and assisted suicide.

Nine years after the Palme d’Or awarded to Michael Haneke for Love, François Ozon delivers, on similar questions, a drama in a completely different register, bittersweet, sometimes funny, and at a frantic pace.

Unrecognizable at the start of the film, his deformed face (two hours of make-up every morning), his silvery hair closely shaved, André Dussollier blends in with the features of André Bernheim, an octogenarian, rich art collector, victim of stroke.

Nailed to a hospital bed, but with all his head, this stubborn, selfish, even cruel father, but whom the 75-year-old actor makes terribly endearing, will ask one of his daughters, Emmanuèle, incarnate by Sophie Marceau, to help him commit suicide. “Asking his daughter to help him die, is that love or evil?” », Will ask her husband to Emmanuèle Bernheim, while the request of his father goes back to years of traumatic relationship.

Because throughout his life, André Bernheim, a multifaceted character, has never spared his relatives, explaining to his daughters how he finds them “naughty”, abandoning his wife suffering from Parkinson’s (Charlotte Rampling in the film) for preferring his own lovers to him… “He’s a bad father, but I love him very much, I would have liked to have him as a friend,” says his daughter.

“On the side of life”

“This father character is both unbearable and very endearing, he has incredible strength of character and the love his daughters have for him. […] He loves life so much that he wants to die rather than be lessened ”, summarizes François Ozon. Finally, Emmanuèle Bernheim and her sister (played by Geraldine Pailhas) will agree to organize the assisted suicide of the father, by contacting a Swiss association, where this process is legal.

A very eclectic filmmaker, Ozon oscillates between registers, from a hospital scene where the father must accept that he be washed, to another, bordering on burlesque, where the wheelchair refuses to enter the elevator, even comes close to the thriller, when it is necessary to hide from the French police, which could derail the last trip to the shores of Lake Geneva …

“We had to make the film on the side of life, there had to be a rhythm, to highlight the comic character of the situations. I didn’t want to be weighed down by the subject, ”explains the director. “We are not in the pathos, it must be the color of François Ozon who does not want to cry cheaply. This mix between the drama they are going through and the comic, that’s life, ”continues André Dussollier.

For Ozon, this project takes on a special character: Emmanuèle Bernheim is a real character, a relative, novelist and screenwriter, who has collaborated with him on several of his films, including Swimming Pool and Under the sand. She told this story in a book, but died of cancer before she could see the adapted project on the big screen. It was only after his death that François Ozon overcame the “fear” inspired by the subject.

The film is also the occasion for the author of 8 women (with Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart…), to finally shoot with Sophie Marceau, which he had been aiming to do “for a long time”, he says: “Sophie is a beautiful, radiant girl, loved by the public , we were going to follow her and be with her ”.

After Everything went well, and Ahed’s knee by the Israeli Nadav Lapid, also presented on Tuesday, the jury chaired by Spike Lee must see another 21 films in competition, then award the Palme d’Or on July 17.

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Everything went well | François Ozon in the running for the Palme d’Or

Hank Gilbert