If ever there was a case to be made for not being a parent’s favorite child, Everything Went Fine makes it. Novelist Emmanuèle (Sophie Marceau) is living her life when she receives news that her father André (André Dussollier) has had a stroke, and the prognosis is bleak. When André recovers enough to talk with Emmanuèle about it, he says, “I want you to help me end it.”
Thus begins French screenwriter and director François Ozon’s almost procedural treatment of ending a life by choice. (That’s a relief, because I hazard to guess an American filmmaker would dive into the moral implications.)
Ozon doesn’t express a particular point of view—that is, of being a family member’s personal Jack Kevorkian—but instead focuses on the tedium of finding a way to carry out the plan and of wading through the bureaucracy and legal snafus that follow. The emotional toll results from those actions, not the act itself.
Emmanuèle does feel, of course, but she’s more concerned with honoring her father. For example, when someone asks how she can aid in her father’s death, she replies, “It’s hard to refuse him.”
Marceau is exceptional as the daughter carrying the weight of her father’s wish, and Géraldine Pailhas matches her as Pascale, the second-favorite child, who views the action as an unusual, if difficult, gift. Always present even when he’s not onscreen is Dussollier, who makes an irascible old bastard such as André strangely endearing.
Everything Went Fine is well made without being entertaining—though entertainment doesn’t seem to be its goal—and it will reward patient audiences who appreciate a deliberate march toward an inevitable conclusion. In French with English subtitles. 113 min.