It’s Only The End Of The World (Juste La Fin Du Monde)

Xavier Dolan’s sixth film lives up to its fatalistic title and continues with the oppressive, hemmed-in feel the director employed to great effect in Mommy, though where the ratio suddenly changed in that film to denote the main character’s brief mental escape from daily life, here there’s no such let-up (a car journey looks like it could be a chance for characters and viewers to take stock and relax for five minutes, but it turns out to be a scene that’s just as uncomfortable to sit through as anything else). It’s a five-hander, featuring lots of close-up shots, and like Trey Edward Shults’s similarly awkward Krisha it concerns a family tentatively welcoming back an estranged member, in this case Gaspard Ulliel’s young playwright Louis, who apparently lives a short flight away but hasn’t seen his nearest and not-so-dearest for 12 years. He has a terminal illness, and is visiting so that he can tell his family the bad news, and even though they are apparently not on great terms they are at least seemingly pleased to see him. Present in the house are Louis’ matriarchal mother (Nathalie Baye), younger sister (Léa Seydoux), aggressive and bitter older brother (Vincent Cassel) and his older brother’s wife (Marion Cotillard); it’s her status as an outsider, of sorts, that seems to attract Louis, and despite the fact we know that Louis is gay there seems to be some kind of attraction implied by Dolan, going beyond mere kinship, as he leaves the camera lingering on their pregnant, lengthy exchanged glances. The performances are good – no surprise given the quality of the cast – and yet as the film ended I was left wanting more; perhaps more from Dolan, rather than the actors, as the director seems to be on slightly more restrained form here than in his other films (you may think this is no bad thing, though). Either way, it’s quite good and certainly undeserving of all the immature booing and catcalls it apparently received at Cannes last year. (***)