Canada’s bad boy Xavier Dolan waste a perfectly good cast in his new dysfunctional family drama
It is hard to deliver movie after movie, and just when you think Xavier Dolan has got it, he seriously misses the mark with his new movie, It’s Only The End Of The World. A lot is riding on his latest film. It won the Grand Prix at Cannes Festival this year, and it is Canada’s submission for the Foreign Language category at the Oscars. However, Canada has substantially wasted their submission. It’s Only The End Of The World is Dolan’s only blemish on his resume to date.
Adapted from the Jean-Luc Lagarce’s Juste La Fin Du Monde, it follows a young gay man, Louis (Gaspard Ulliel), who comes home to tell his family that he is dying from AIDS. His single mother (Nathalie Baye), his sister, Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) and his brother, Antoine (Vincent Cassel) are not the most caring family. In fact, they are quite violent and dysfunctional. It is hard for Louis to tell them this devasting news as no one in his family is a particularly good listener. The only caring person present in the house is Antoine’s wife (Marion Cotillard). She and Louis can relate on many points and may be the only person there that can ever understand him.
Ultimately, it becomes a story about a bickering family rather than a powerful story about a dying young man. The cast is amazing, and they do the best they can with what they are given which is not a lot. The whole family is given little to no layers even the main character, Louis. The most wasted actor has got to be Marion Cotillard. She is never given anything interesting to do and falls in the cliched abused wife.
Perhaps as disappointing as the cast is the monotonous cinematography. The excess use of close up adds nothing special to the movie. Dolan only gives teases of what could have been some beautiful cinematography. A scene showing the outdoor table as the family is preparing to eat is a nice change of pace. The audience gets to see a beautifully captured scenery. But, Dolan quickly goes back to putting the camera directly in each character’s faces thinking that it adds to the atmosphere.
Together it makes the movie’s pace unbearable, and the main story is backseat to all the cussing and fighting. Dolan’s addition of weak metaphors come off as pretentious instead of deep. The movie tries to be a sophisticated look at a dying person’s psychology, but instead we get 95 minutes of bickering.
It’s Only The End Of The World is a disappointing movie. Everything it tries to do fails. A talented cast is wasted just as Canada’s chance at an Oscar. However, it may not be the end of the world just yet for Dolan as he is set to release his first English movie, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. We can only hope that a change of language will help him return to his previous form.