- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : It’s Only the End of the World

| July 16, 2017

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of It’s Only the End of the World.

Like I said in my review of Heartbeats, Xavier Dolan is five months from being a household name. I strongly believe that his next film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan will make everyone in America aware of Dolan’s presence. And after watching his most recent film It’s Only the End of the World, I’m not sure if the world will be in awe or in mockery.

It’s Only the End of the World is the sixth film from 29-year-old French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan. It tells the story of a young world famous writer who returns home for a dinner to tell his family that he has a terminal illness. This film premiered at Cannes in 2016 to pretty harsh criticism, many critics saying this is the worst film Dolan has made thus far. And I will admit that this film is very problematic, but I will not go and say that this is his worst film.

The writing of the film is where I am the most conflicted about the film. Because I think this is certainly Dolan’s most mature and explores more adult themes than the rest of his filmography. So I do want to celebrate the fact that he is exploring these real subjects and is maturing out of what he is brave enough to explore out of what he has been made famous for. On the flip side of this, the dialogue in this film is particularly awful. In almost every scene was at least one line of dialogue where I was taken out of the film for one reason or another. Whether it be that the line is too wordy or the line is too expositional or plain and simple that no one would ever say that. So where his big picture with the story is great, the smaller more precise parts of the film just fall flat.

The film is also fairly predictable in terms of how it plays out. It follows this moving narrative where there is a scene for each character for the protagonist to talk with. You get everyone’s perspective this way but it doesn’t ever do anything to make you care about their perspectives. None of the characters are fleshed out enough to make you truly care about what they think and what they say. You are just watching them explain their perspective without much interest.

Another plus about this film is that the acting is all superb, for the most part. The main character played by Gaspard Ulliel gives the performance of a piece of plywood and doesn’t react to really anything. He has a stone cold face the entire time, and if that’s the point then the protagonist is horribly written. The best acting comes from Vincent Cassel, who always gives an incredible performance. I haven’t seen all of his work but I can’t think of a time where I didn’t enjoy Vincent Cassel’s performance, and he is by far one of the best actors in this film. If Vincent Cassel isn’t the best actor in the film then it has to be Léa Seydoux. both Cassel and Seydoux have this rawness to their performances that make them both incredible. They display this emotion in their performances that make arguably two of the better performances of the year. And a lot of people have been in love with Marion Cotillard’s performance. But personally, I just didn’t find it all that compelling. I adore Marion Cotillard in almost everything she does, but I just thought she was average in this film. Probably because of the fact that the writing for her character is the worst out of all of the rest of the cast. But either way, she didn’t blow me away.

Another thing that I want to talk about quickly is Xavier Dolan’s music choice in this film. Much like Tarantino or a thousand other directors, Dolan uses Pop music in his film very frequently. And in this film, it might be my biggest problem. In Heartbeats, I thought his choice of music worked well, and I think his choice of music usually is pretty good. But like I said earlier, his vision for this film and the one of this film is much more mature and much more serious. And when you match that with the upbeat pop tunes that he puts in, it doesn’t work. It is a jarring contrast.  And one that has no purpose in the film without reaching. If Xavier Dolan wants to make more serious and mature films, then he needs to grow out of the childish tools he used in the past.

It’s Only the End of the World feels very much like a transition film. This is Xavier Dolan dipping his toes in the water and feeling something out before jumping into it. Xavier Dolan has said in interviews that he considers this film to be his best work. And if that’s the case then we as an audience need to learn to adjust to the new direction that he is going in. Because if that is the case then it seems like The Death and Life of John F Donovan is probably going to be even more of what we see in this film. And I can tell you right now, Xavier Dolan is going to be the household name in 6 months. We will either be talking about how great of a director he is, similar to the breakout of Denis Villeneuve. Or we will be talking about the downfall of one of the most promising young directors.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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