It's Only the End of the World

Film, Drama
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French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan brings together an A-list cast, including Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel, for a disappointing melodrama

At what point do we stop referring to prolific Quebecois director/writer/actor Xavier Dolan as a wunderkind? He's still only 27, but with six feature films under his belt, he already feels like a veteran. But perhaps that moment comes when the wonder goes. His latest, 'It's Only The End Of The World', is unfortunately his worst by some distance, a talky unsatisfying anticlimax. It has none of the precocious daring of 'I Killed My Mother' (2009), the cutting-edge style of 'Heartbeats' (2010), the arch charm of 'Laurence Anyways' (2012), the psychosexual thrills of 'Tom at the Farm' (2013) or the considerable playfulness of 'Mommy' (2014).

What is does have is a wonderful cast, sadly wasted on a screeching melodrama which sees a 34 year old who has been away for 12 years decide to pay a visit to his family, with whom he subsequently argues, and that's about it. Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel - any one of these actors is enough to make a film fly, but clustered together into a fractious ensemble with little to do but carp at one another, there is scant sense of who any of these people are or why it might be interesting to spend time with them. They mostly come off as terrible but tedious sorts whose problems are uninteresting.

So what went wrong? With the exception of 'Tom at the Farm', Dolan's scripts have all been original works until now - here, he's adapting a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, and its theatrical roots are visible. Dolan is usually a visual stylist as good as any working today, with a fantastic pop sensibility, able to fashion enduring images from a magpie mixture of high fashion, elevated kitsch and white-trash ephemera. Here, there are still moments of transcendence, with some beautiful chiaroscuro close-ups of almost drag queen-like make-up on some of the women, giving rise to a sort of Caravaggio-meets-Ru Paul effect that would work wonderfully as a painting. Unfortunately, because it's so cinematically inert, all that craft and talent seems wasted. Let's hope his next film sees him working on another Dolan original.

By: Catherine Bray

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Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday February 24 2017
Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Xavier Dolan
Screenwriter: Xavier Dolan
Cast: Marion Cotillard
Léa Seydoux
Vincent Cassel

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tastemaker

Finally 'It's Only the End of the World' got released in the UK. After being fascinated by Mommy a couple of year ago, I was looking forward to see Xavier Dolan's new movie and Jury Prize in Cannes Festival. He brilliantly re-interpreted Jean-Luc Lagarce's play about seropositivity in gay community as well as adding his own thoughts about family relationships. After a long absence, Louis is back to his hometown to visit his family and tell them he is about to die. This reunion which should be a moment of happiness becomes rapidly a disaster and reveals a deep malaise and misunderstandings between each members of this family. The casting is very impressive with well-known and awarded French actors such as Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard and Lea Seydoux. Their performances are sublimated by Nolan's direction and its way of using close ups to create a high dramatic intensity. Definitely worth seeing if you like art-house cinema and especially Xavier Dolan's unique work.