‘It’s Only the End of the World’ is a French language film based on the play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce. The story follows young playwright, Louis, and his return home to his family who he hasn’t seen in twelve years. This film version is directed by Xavier Dolan and stars Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel & Léa Seydoux.
They synopsis I’ve given is really all we know about the story as it unfolds in the films opening scenes. The only additional information the audience receive is that Louis is returning home to tell his family some personal news. Largely the film holds the details of its narrative very close to its chest. Whilst for some this will no doubt be frustrating I found that it added an atmosphere of mystery and intrigue to the story. I enjoyed trying to work out the history between these characters and was interested in their interactions after being apart for so long. The film takes advantage of its transition from stage to screen. Something that other recent stage to screen project, ‘Fences’ has been criticised for. Here, ‘It’s Only the End of the World’ uses other locations than just the house which the main body of the film takes place in. As well as this the ability to use techniques such as flashbacks are utilised well showcasing the benefits of an on screen adaption. The film has a brilliant soundtrack too. Sometimes the music is very much the centre of attention and on other occasions it does its job in the background. Throughout the film it always achieved what was required of it, whether this be emotion, humour or pace.
The clever use of this soundtrack was useful in maintaining the attention of the audience. Being based on a play you can imagine how heavy the film is with dialogue. The inclusion of said music helped prevent the film from being bogged down by this. However, even without the music the script is strong enough to keep viewers entertained. The conversations between the characters were always fascinating to listen in on, made even more enjoyable by that beautiful French accent. The context of the film contributed to this too. A family gathering is something most will be able to relate too, this aspect of the narrative helped to engage me even more so than I already was. The cast are all wonderful in their roles, with no place to hide in this character study. Alongside the well known names I’ve mentioned the cast is completed by lead actor Gaspard Ulliel & Nathalie Baye. Ulliel is particularly impressive however all five of the cast members give accomplished performances and gel together in a most believable way. This needed to be the case, with close up shots being common throughout the movie. The camera work was impressive as a whole with the cinematography in particular being especially noteworthy. For such a standard setting I thought the film looked quite stunning.
‘It’s Only the End of the World’ will seem uneventful & inconclusive to many. However for those happy to eavesdrop on this family reunion the rewards are aplenty. The cast do a tremendous job at bringing these characters and their relationships with one and other to life. The script is interesting and helps audiences to speculate on the narrative which isn’t spelt out for them. The soundtrack & cinematography only compliment the film further making it a wholly enjoyable experience.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite French language film?
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