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Juste la fin du monde

Louis visits his family after 12 years of being absent to tell them he is terminally ill. His return opens a can of worms filled with years’ worth of resentment and repressed feelings.


Xavier Dolan is not afraid of melodrama. Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) is seen in close-up sitting in an airplane with a sweeping musical cue (Gabriel Yared). You can only see his face. His voice-over can be heard: he is going to see his family who he hasn’t seen in 12 years to say goodbye because he doesn’t have long to live. This knowledge accompanies the film like a McGuffin – the “bomb” could go off at any moment. It automatically pulls viewers to Louis’ side. When Louis is silent, aloof, or evasive, we know why that is. We excuse everything.

The family, in contrast, doesn’t know anything and isn‘t let off the hook for anything. Louis steps into a real hornets‘ nest of resentment and repressed emotions when he returns. There’s his little sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) who smokes too much weed, has no plans, and blames her lethargy on her brother’s absence, who she barely knows. There’s his extroverted dramatic mother (Natalie Baye) who can barely hug her son because her nail polish is drying. There’s his new sister-in-law Catherine (Marion Cotillard) who makes a friendly effort to make conversation and flinches at her husband’s outbursts and finally there’s Antoine, phenomenally played by Vincent Cassel, a bitter, unhappy, aggressive type who can’t help making every word an attack and every sentence an injury. It isn’t clear what made him become this way or what he blames his brother for exactly. The hurt is incredibly deep and can’t really be explained by Louis’ escape to the city, his success as a writer, or his homosexuality. The figure of the absent father is mentioned in conversation at times and when Louis says he would like to visit the old house again Antoine incredulously asks “what would you want to do there? We needed 20 years to get out of that dump and you want to go there to look at the leaves blow on the roof? I’ll go to Auschwitz, jerk off, and a poem will come out?” The analogy that seems most fitting for IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD is less Auschwitz and more the Middle East conflict: all sides are deeply hurt, the wounds have been there for many years and cannot disappear and every exchange adds to the mountain if misunderstanding.

Dolan goes right into the thick of this spiral. Despite there not being one open, unguarded, trusting exchange in the film, everyone shows their feelings in painfully exposed ways. It is impossible to escape, just the opposite, the closeness creates understanding, not just towards Louis, the loving mother, or Catherine who is in need of protection, but also the almost violent Antoine. Flight instincts, fascination, pity, and the recognition of familiar family dynamics balance each other – even though they’re extremely magnified. The actors are fantastic and give it their all. They are also in safe hands with Dolan – his camera has both a dissecting and indulging gaze that is characteristic of his other films as well. He doesn’t let anything slide and celebrates every flaw.

Hendrike Bake

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Juste la fin du monde
Kanada/Frankreich 2016, 97 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Xavier Dolan
Author: Xavier Dolan
DOP: André Turpin
Montage: Xavier Dolan
Music: Gabriel Yared
Distributor: Weltkino Filmverleih
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye, Léa Seydoux
FSK: 12
Release: 29.12.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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