Film Review – ‘It’s Only the End of the World’ (2016)

The sixth film from auter and prolific young film maker Xavier Dolan, ‘It’s Only the End of the World‘ shows us a writer returning home for the first time in years to tell his family that he is dying. The situation unfolds through a unique perspective. Dolan places us right up close to the characters through a determined reliance of close up.


Dolan also unpicks a detailed set of performances from a strong cast. Gaspard Ulliel is nuanced as the lead, the regretful writer Louis; whilst Vincent Cassel displays harsh brilliance as abhorrent brother Antoine. Elsewhere Nathalie Baye adds layers of complexity to the mother character. This doesn’t stray far from the mother character as depicted throughout Dolan’s work. The mother figures in both ‘Mommy‘ (2014) and ‘I Killed My Mother‘ (2009) also have a confident immediacy which masks an internal secretive emotional depth. In this film, Baye smokes in secret (but so do all of the characters, an ironic nod to the deeper conflicts).

At a level of audio the use of music is again crucial to the narrative. Dolan is great at using pop songs to take us back to a feeling or a certain time for the characters. It often achieves more than fashionable nostalgia. In ‘Mommy’ there is Eifel 65’s ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’ and Oasis hit ‘Wonderwall’ both firmly in this position. ‘It’s Only the End of the World‘ has a tongue in cheek choreographed piece blurring into flashback, built around eurodance anthem ‘Dragostea Din Tei’. Alongside this is a more subtle use of old Blink 182. The soundtrack is ever distinctive, and often deliberately placed to undo any false pretence the characters may hold.

The dialogue is well written; the raw emotions of each scene being broken down by the physical intentions of the characters. The anger is presented in pure form. A lot like Lukas Moodysson’s energetic films ‘Together’ and ‘We Are the Best!’, Dolan similarly drives a narrative in which the characters are at odds with each other. Finally, the camera is placed right up close, in the faces of the subjects. We are given little time away from the intensity of the conversations, and the implications of these exchanges.

Though there are now some clear similarities within all of his films, Xavier Dolan continues to explore unique and interesting stylistic choices on screen. ‘It’s Only the End of the World‘ is fantastic.

| Zach Roddis

Drama | France, 2016 | 15 | 24th April 2017 (UK) | Curzon Atificial Eye | Dir.Xavier Dolan | Gaspard UlIiel, Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye | Buy: [DVD]

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