Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: It's Only the End of the World

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: It's Only the End of the World

Article excerpt

Xavier Dolan's It's Only the Endof the World is one of those angst-ridden dramas focusing on what is commonly referred to as a 'dysfunctional family' as if there might be any other kind and it isn't just a question of degree. This family certainly doesn't hold back. This family has everyone shouting at everyone else for 95 minutes, blurting out brutal truths that might equally be brutal untruths (hard to tell). It has not been rapturously received. It was jeered at Cannes (even though it won the Grand Prix) and has been described by various critics as 'insufferable' and 'intolerable', which can only make you think that they haven't seen an Avengers film for a while. But if it is a failure -- if; I haven't fully decided yet so bear with me -- at least it fails promisingly, with spirit, and with a stellar cast turning the volume up to 11, 15... 38!

Some background: Dolan is the French-Canadian wunderkind of art-house cinema. As writer/director he's helmed six films and won two of the top prizes at Cannes. Also, according to Wikipedia, he is an editor, producer, actor, voice actor, costume designer... and is still only 27. Shaming, I know. (Do you think I could catch up on the costume design, at least? If I start sewing right now? And stay up night after night?) But whereas he's mostly written his own scripts -- Mommy (2014), which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, is outrageously brilliant -- this is an adaptation of the 1990 play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, who died of Aids at 38.

Here, our main character, Louis (Gaspard Ulliel, total dreamboat), is 34, gay, a famous playwright, and is returning home after a 12-year absence to tell his family he is dying, although it's never specified of what exactly. Dolan has assembled the most stellar cast. Nathalie Baye plays Louis' self-dramatising mother. Léa Seydoux is Suzanne, the younger sister he scarcely knows, who is hungry for his attention. …

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