It's Only The End Of The World

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Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

It's Only The End Of The World
"The histrionics on display submerge everything else while the narrative pitch throws so much at the spectator that it is impossible to sympathise with anyone."

At only 27, Xavier Dolan has created a particular cinematic universe in which to explore his concerns. On the credit side he is a renegade talent who cares not a jot for traditional boundaries.

Sometimes it works (his last film, Mommy, won the jury prize at Cannes) and sometimes he tries too hard and it falls apart. That is the case for It’s Only The End Of The World, which he has adapted from the stage play by Jean-Luc Lagarde.

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The play is about a young man, Louis (played by Gaspard Ulliel), a terminally ill writer who returns home to tell his family that he is dying. Given the dysfunctional nature of the relatives (mother played by Nathalie Baye looking like Morticia Addams on a bad day, as well as siblings Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux and his brother’s meek and mild wife Marion Cotillard) he might have been better to have stayed away.

The encounter takes place at high volume - due to the over-wrought soundtrack and because the A-list French actors shout at each continuously. They all have their problems and fragility, not least because Louis has been away for a such a long time that relationships have completely broken down. In turn they try to re-establish links with him and find a way of rebuilding family ties.

Dolan has proved he can adapt stage material successfully, as in Tom At The Farm, but here the histrionics on display submerge everything else while the narrative pitch throws so much at the spectator that it is impossible to sympathise with anyone.

There is a sense of desperation as he uses every technical trick in the book with slow motion, incessant close-ups to point up the sense of the characters’ alienation from each other, and flashbacks. Much of it resembles a pop video.

It does Dolan no favours to have such flawed work in the glare of a Festival like Cannes where the last time around there was even talk of a Palme d’Or for Mommy.

Reviewed on: 19 May 2016
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It's Only The End Of The World packshot
A writer returns home after a long absence to tell his family he is terminally ill.

Director: Xavier Dolan

Writer: Xavier Dolan, Jean-Luc Lagarce

Starring: Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye

Year: 2016

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Canada, France


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