I knew Iíd be in the minority about French-Canadian director Xavier Dolanís new film, ďItís Only the End of the World,Ē which premiered in competition Wednesday night.
I liked it, but it was savaged on Twitter moments after the press departed the Palais. Itís these kinds of things that are so disheartening, but part of the game these days.
Whatís the movie about? A gay man returns home after a 12-year-absence to tell his mother, brother and sister that heís going to die soon. It could be AIDS, or some other disease. Itís not specified. But the son, Louis (Gaspard Ulliel), is a successful playwright whoís gay, and itís obvious that his brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) is quite resentful of Louis and his success. Antoine makes tools for a living. Louis is featured in glossy magazines.
If you want to get literary, and thatís actually appropriate since the movie is adapted from a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, itís basically a story of The Prodigal Son who returns home but soon realizes that thereís no responsible adult parent. The father is dead. The mother (Nathalie Baye) is a kook. The older brother (Cassel) is vindictive; his wife (Marion Cotillard) is confused; and his sister Suzanne (Lea Seydoux) has never really known her brother well but is desperate to change things.
In case you didnít notice, thatís an all-star French lineup of actors, and theyíre quite good.
Most of the criticism has focused on the histrionics, the yelling, the claustrophobic scenes. But thatís typical of a play thatís being adapted into a film. (ďWhoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Ē anyone?).
And yes, Dolan is gay, and yes, Dolan uses lots of closeups for Ulliel, whom he clearly thinks is gorgeous. But if you gotta pick a buy for closeups, you could do far worse than Ulliel. And thatís beside the point.
Hereís the deal. If you donít think the controversial dialogue and rejection of the ďprodigal sonĒ is real, then you werenít paying attention during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s onward. Many a ďprodigal sonĒ was rejected. And many went through this kind of scene.
So, the question is: Why are so many people hating this movie? Part of it probably has to do with Dolanís early successes and his visual stylings. Iím sure many people will have reasoned judgments to contradict what Iíve said. That, too, is part of the game. But never underestimate envy.]]