RECOMMENDATION: It's Only the End of the World
It's not easy to be around family, especially for long periods of time, not to mention after you haven't seen them in a very long time and everyone expects, in their own way, to get something out of it. Xavier Dolan has made a ritual out of dissecting family relationship in his films that have awed the Cannes audiences over the years. His newest, It's Only the End of the World does a similar thing, in the sense that it pushes the right buttons in the viewer. It has perhaps a bit stretched out, but nevertheless worth your time.
"Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, Xavier Dolan’s Juste la fin du monde is a magnificent, thunderous drama about home and familial roots. Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) is a terminally ill writer who has come home after 12 years away to tell his family he is dying. It’s the proverbial prodigal’s return, except that Louis’ family is not so ready to forgive him. His arrival precipitates chaos. His mother (Nathalie Baye) has tried to keep her family together despite their struggles in the wake of Louis’ departure, and his tempestuous siblings (Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux) and introverted sister-in-law (Marion Cotillard) have their own crosses and grudges to bear. The group deconstructs a life’s worth of damaged family dynamics, and the writer becomes a mostly silent observer. Dolan gives the source play by Jean-Luc Lagarce a stunningly stylized adaptation, shooting almost entirely in intense close-ups. It’s a bold aesthetic choice that gets to the heart of the characters’ experience: their buried memories, their heavy sadness, and, ultimately, their profound love for each other." (tiff.com)
Watch the trailer below.
"Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World is histrionic and claustrophobic: deliberately oppressive and pretty well pop-eyed in its madness – and yet a brilliant, stylised and hallucinatory evocation of family dysfunction: a companion piece in some ways to the epic shouting match that was Dolan’s earlier movie, Mommy. This is a pressure cooker of anxiety, a film with the dials turned up to 12. Watching it, listening to it, is like having your head in the speaker bin for a Motörhead concert.
That’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve heard it denounced as “insufferable”. Dolan has made insufferable films in the past – his fey, musing films like the interminable Laurence Anyways, in 2012 – but this isn’t one of them, and the uncompromising ear bashing here is an intentional, black comic effect." (The Guardian)
"The director does his darnedest to make this material his own. Reteaming with DP Andre Turpin (his collaborator on Mommy and Tom at the Farm), Dolan uses individual facial close-ups and a shallow depth of field (so that only one person is in focus at a time) to underline the alienation of each unhappy character; he breaks out the slow-mo and turns up the Europop (the shamefully addictive Moldovan hit "Numa Numa" is a highlight); he throws in a few lyrical flashbacks to Louis' childhood and adolescence, sequences of sex, drugs and dream-like beauty that open up the story and take us all too fleetingly away from the talky rancor; and he floods the frame with fiery orange light in the climactic scene, suggesting a veritable inferno of family squabbling." (The Hollywood Reporter)
"Dolan’s incredibly misjudged film is overcome with pretension, made all the more frustrating by its glimpses of his obvious talents. A few sequences in It’s Only the End of the World—most of them dreamy, music-video flashbacks—are stunning, and are invocations of Dolan’s previous triumphs, particularly his 2014 Cannes wonder Mommy. (A terrific burst of cinematic verve that every one of you should see if you haven’t yet.) But they arrive amidst a hideous clamor of pointless yelling and shoddy character work, cruel teases of a poignant, vibrant movie that could have been if Dolan wasn’t so stymied by someone else’s story. (Previously, Dolan worked with Canadian playwright Michel Marc Bouchard to adapt Bouchard’s play Tom at the Farm to film. Perhaps having Bouchard around to collaborate was an important factor that kept that film afloat.) It’s Only the End of the World is scored, puckishly, by Dolan’s trademark blaring instrumentals and throwback pop tunes. (The final song cue is so startlingly terrible that it almost plays as parody.)" (Vanity Fair)
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