Review: But for the dialogue, It’s Only The End Of The World would be marvellous

Marion Cotillard and Vincent Casse in It�s Only The End Of The World. Picture: Curzon Artificial Eye

Marion Cotillard and Vincent Casse in It�s Only The End Of The World. Picture: Curzon Artificial Eye - Credit: Archant

Based on the play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce, prodigious auteur Xavier Dolan's latest features an all-star cast of top French talent.

It's Only The End Of The World (15)


For his sixth film prodigious Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan (Mommy) has assembled a phenomenal selection of France's finest thespians, put them in a confined space and just turned them loose on each other.

A successful playwright (Gaspard Ulliel) returns to the see the family he walked out on 12 years earlier to tell them he's dying but, by a cruel yet fitting irony, finds he's walked into a nightmare theatrical production of his own making – something like an Addams Family version of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.

No sooner is he through the door then his family are fighting over whose turn it is to rip into him, and then each other. Well, he did shun his brother's marriage (Vincent Cassel to Marion Cotillard) and miss his younger sister (Lea Seydoux) growing up, restricting communciation to a few postcards – I guess he had it coming. Not sure we did though.

As the mother Baye is dressed up like Fenella Fielding in Carry On Screaming, while Seydoux resembles a very soft, petulant bulldog. Those puffy little bags under her eyes make her ideal to play wasted or junkies, but are a real hindrance to trying to pass for someone in their early twenties.

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Cotillard's character is the nicest and quietest of the ensemble. She never shouts but her halting, uncertain delivery means you keep wondering if she is supposed to be overcoming a stammer, or if she isn't a native speaker, or if this is just to show us that she is shy and mousey.

Cassel is the most unbearable figure, who really can't open his mouth without raging. He's like an unsympathetic version of the nice American gun nut who shouted at Piers Morgan. It's not his fault, he's just written that way. This dialogue can't be delivered, just spewed.

The contrary thing about the film is that if it wasn't for every single line of dialogue in it, it would be marvellous. Dolan, still in his twenties, shoots almost everything in close up or very tight angles. The lighting is exquisite and he does wonders with Cotillard's performance and the few quieter moments.

If the actors were playing something worth playing it'd be a treat, but this isn't really a drama, it's a game of thespian Buckaroo, seeing how many lines of dialogue the cast can get through before one of them explodes.

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