2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Perceptive viewers will find plenty to love in It’s Only The End of the World

By Zach Green, September 27 2016 —

At just 27-years old, Québecois director Xavier Dolan has had an extraordinary career. The Canadian marvel has already directed six films and is considered one of Canada’s most treasured directors. Dolan’s newest release, It’s Only the End of the World, is a beautiful and deeply soulful film with a few significant flaws. The film features at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival.

Based on a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, the film follows Louis — played by Gaspard Ulliel — a young man visiting his family for the first time in 12 years to deliver news of his imminent death due to an unspecified illness. What follows is a slow and meditative movie on a much smaller scale than Dolan’s other films. Like most stage to screen adaptations, It’s Only the End of the World makes audiences feel like they are watching a play. Thankfully, Dolan’s unique visuals manage to make the film cinematic enough to stand on its own.

The cinematography is initially jarring and uncomfortable, as the majority of the film’s shots are close-ups of the actors’ faces. The style makes the movie difficult to watch, but these visuals have  a powerful effect. The close-ups make the viewer feel claustrophobic and trapped in conversations, putting us in Louis’s shoes.

The distinct visual style also enhances the film’s performances, as the camera captures every nuance of the actors’ facial expressions. This is demonstrated most prominently in Ulliel’s performance. Ulliel captures Louis’s conflict and sorrow with minimal dialogue, acting primarily with his face. The always excellent Marion Cotillard also stands out as Louis’s sister-in-law, Catherine. Cotillard radiates humanity and empathy as her character meets her husband’s brother for the first time.

The script is It’s Only the End of the World’s weakest element. Its dialogue is uneven, as Louis’s conversations with estranged family members are emotional but incredibly repetitive. The characters often go back to the same point several times in a conversation, which is meant to feel realistic but is frustrating to watch. Although the film’s conclusion is convincingly heartbreaking, it also makes the film as a whole feel a little pointless.

Guaranteed to be divisive, It’s Only the End of the World is a gorgeous but imperfect film. Filled with unforgettable visuals and meandering dialogue, not everyone will be impressed by Dolan’s latest release, but patient and perceptive viewers will find plenty to love in this tragic tale.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet