09 February 2017 // Sanne Schrijver //Amersfoort


Juste la fin du monde, Xavier Dolan sixth movie, is melodramatic and claustrophobic ; pretty in its madness, and yet a brilliant, stylised and strong story of family dysfunction. This is a pressure cooker of anxiety, a film with the tension turned up to 12. Watching it, listening to it, is like having your head in the speaker bin for a Rammstein concert.

Dolan has assembled an A-list French cast: Gaspard Ulliel plays Louis, the main character and writer in question; Nathalie Baye is his genial, wittering widowed mother. Léa Seydoux is Suzanne, his depressed, punky sister who respects what Louis has achieved, but in a mood of resentment that he has not carried her along with him as a connected spirit. Vincent Cassel is his brother, Antoine, who has a job as a tool-maker and is married to mousy and submissive Catherine, played by Marion Cotillard. However much these family members might have wanted to keep things nice and polite, it is of course useless. The moment Louis steps through the door, the screaming starts. It is a nightmare: stylised, unreal. We see them in the woozy way Louis sees them. Or perhaps this is the dream that he is later having about the family reunion. For most of the film, Dolan brings his camera uncomfortably tight in for extreme close-ups on the characters’ faces. In fact, they are almost always quarrelling or shouting. Louis looks very ill, but it is not merely his illness. It is a form of nervous breakdown, mingled with guilt and fear. Being back among his family is causing something like a shock. Juste la fin du monde is a deeply pessimistic film on the subject of “family”: which emerges as not a supportive, nurturing institution, but something unbearable and clinging. It’s possible that after seeing this movie it feels like you have been hit by a truck.


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