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All goes well in this chronicle of a decided death signed by a director who delights in surprising each of his films.
Summary: At 85, Emmanuèle’s father is hospitalized after a stroke. When he wakes up, depressed and dependent, this curious about everything, passionately loving life, asks his daughter to help him die.
Review: After Thanks to God who lifted the veil of pedophilia within the Catholic Church, François Ozon adapts the book of his friend Emmanuèle Bernheim and addresses another fact of society: that of euthanasia, prohibited in our country but authorized in some of our neighbors, Switzerland among others.
To make this painful subject, which will frighten more than one, bearable, all the delicacy of this eclectic and curious director was needed. He voluntarily extricates himself from the political context and favors the family prism and especially that of the relationship of a wounded daughter (Sophie Marceau) and a facetious and tyrannical father (André Dussollier). A way of avoiding any ethical debate to send everyone back to personal questions about their relationship with death.
Admittedly, the startlingly realist scenes may give rise to fears of a closed door on the hospital world and illness. But very quickly, life takes over. Moreover, if André Bernheim wants to die, it is because he loves life and can no longer live as he sees fit. Taking advantage of the slightest gap to slip into his tale of derision and humor, Ozon turns his back on any form of pathos and succeeds in the miracle of transforming a work dedicated to death into an act of life.
Emmanuèle is at her desk when she receives a phone call. Her father just had a stroke. As she runs to the hospital, cloudy and contradictory thoughts jostle in her head about this wealthy and cynical, brilliant and authoritarian progenitor, who married out of bourgeois convenience, skilfully navigated between homosexuality and family life and maintained ambiguous relationships with the women in his life, both his wife (Charlotte Rampling) and his daughters (Sophie Marceau and Geraldine Pailhas). Emmanuèle, her favorite daughter, has never been spared neither by her sarcasm nor by her neuroses (numerous flashbacks give us the extent of her coldness). It is therefore to her that he confides his desire for death which marks the beginning of this very intimate story.
The realization of an assumed simplicity keeps all morbidity at bay to let the humanity of characters explode, caught in the whirlwind of unspoken, unacknowledged relationships and family imbalances. If Sophie Marceau, between doubt and determination, plays here one of the most beautiful roles she has offered us in a long time, it is the breathtaking performance of André Dussollier that commands admiration. He easily communicates to us his pleasure in slipping into the skin of this unworthy old man, a priori not very sympathetic who, despite his frozen face and his laborious speech, still retains enough liveliness to play down the situation with great strokes of caustic and humorous. In order to never sink into melodrama, the ending even allows itself to instill a few drops of suspense.
A moving and dignified film which will undoubtedly not fail to create controversy both on the content and on the form but has the advantage of opening the reflection without ever taking sides around a universal theme that risks being invited more more often in our modern societies.
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