Written and Directed by Xavier Dolan
UK Release Date: 24th February 2017
Feature Running Time: 97 minutes
Family gatherings should be a time for love, joy and being able to use the time you have to cherish many wonderful moments with your loved ones. Unfortunately its not always as straightforward as that for families that are dysfunctional and fractured as the one portrayed here.
Serving as my first entry into the work of Xavier Dolan, this is an engrossing and captivating character study piece where words and even awkward silences speak much more louder than actions. After hearing his name float around from the growing success of wowing audiences at festivals and screenings with his previous 2014 directorial effort Mommy to directing the Adele music video, Hello; this up and rising young French-Canadian indie film-maker is pretty much a big deal and already a household name.
Its not at all difficult to see why he’s been widely celebrated at such a young age as a film-maker to be reckoned with as based on this film alone, he’s able to fully engage viewers through his excellent directing and fantastic writing. It’s Only the End of the World is stunningly shot too as it follows the story of Louis-Jean Knipper (Gaspard Ulliel), whom after carving out a successful career for himself as a writer within show-business, decides to return home after a 12 year absence to confess to his family that he apparently doesn’t have long left to live. Although his terminal illness is never actually specified, I believe it to be either cancer or AIDS as his diagnosis. As he reunites with his family after such a long time away, he’s greeted with embracing open arms and much happiness. But this soon falters the longer he stays as opposing family conflicts begin to attack one another like an infection. What makes the visit all the more difficult is the fact that Louis can never quite bring himself to tell his own family the truth about why he chose now of all times to finally be reunited with them.
There is much great support from the rest of the cast here where three other family members are played by already very distinguished French actors that include Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassell. Cassell is the one actor to give the best performance in the film for me. He plays a hard worker and family man who is beaten down solidly by so much jealousy of the success his younger brother has been able to achieve in life than he. He also feels he’s always been made the enemy in this close family circle, even when in his own mind, he’s trying to do whats best for everyone else.
As much as I was taken with this film, it also frustrated me somewhat as well as it never provided with me with the answers I wanted and the ending was left very much in the open. Regardless of this though, this was a very tightly plotted and and pretty intense family drama that packed a real emotional punch. I was able to relate to it a lot when looking at it from the angle of being so closed up, finding it hard to communicate with others and letting others know your true feelings. This may be the first film I’ve watched from Dolan but it certainly won’t be the last.