Everything is Fine (aka Tout Est Parfait) (2008) dir. Yves Christian Fournier
Starring: Maxime Dumontier, Chloe Bourgeois, Normand D'Amour, Maxime Bessette
Yves Christian Fournier’s debut feature feels very much like a debut feature – it's a brooding tale of a teen trying to deal with the suicide of four – count ‘em FOUR! – of his best friends. It’s perhaps the most depressing film I’ve ever seen, and it seems only to serve as a showcase of the director’s skills with mood, tone and camerawork.
Josh is a typical teenager from Quebec – he loves to skateboard, listen to music and hang with his friends. But one day he knocks on his friend’s bedroom door and finds he has hung himself. Later that day he finds out three of his other best friends have also committed suicide. It’s no doubt a shock to him and so Josh is sent reeling in disbelief and incomprehension. Things are made worse when everyone around him questions Josh about what he knew of this seemingly planned and coordinated mass suicide.
It’s all a mystery to Josh, but over the course of the film through a series of flashbacks and recalled memories, he traces the seeds of his friends' discontent. Josh is also a suicide threat himself. His parents try to provide comfort but he’ll have nothing to do with them. Josh finds his only solace in Mia, the girlfriend one of the victims (Chloe Bourgeois). They strike up a blissful and sexy affair, but Josh just can’t seem to escape the pain of his loss.
“Everything is Fine” echoes the morose introspective youth gone wild works of Gus Van Sant, Larry Clark and David Gordon Green and most notably Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides”. It's also a laboured film, which drags out the grieving period to the entire length of the film. There’s rarely a blip of happiness – perhaps only when he gets his rocks off with Mia. But his joy rarely lasts beyond the coital experience because when he opens his mouth it’s full of the self-pity and cold detachment associated with his friends’ suicides.
The script barely holds together as a narrative structure. There’s few dramatic beats, or act turns or other traditional elements to move the story along and Josh barely changes as a character over the course of the two hours. But Fournier makes up for it all with a freeform dreamlike visual and auditory palette. It’s a gorgeous film to look at. His handheld camera moves freely with Josh along his journey of depression. Whether it’s a beautifying magic hour scene shot in slo-mo or rambunctious fuck in the woods, or a foot-tapping indie rock song on the soundtrack there’s always something interesting to watch and hear on the screen. It's dark material but as Fournier's first feature it's a labour of love and he has a clear vision for his film.
Fournier just makes it so hard to jump on board beyond the technical level. We’re never provided with a handle of hope to grab onto. One can only take so many painful beatdowns. We badly need Josh to pick himself up and move on – this is what the film seems to be about, but Fournier is so determined not to take Josh or us there, it becomes a pointless exercise. I suggest waiting for his second film.
“Everything is Fine” is available on DVD from Alliance Films
Sorry, this trailer is only in French – but the film is subtitled in English: