r e v i e w // i t ‘ s o n l y t h e e n d o f t h e w o r l d

a spicy big-screen sizzler, xavier dolan’s doomed dinner party tale is a fervent feast of emotion, bringing all manner of family dysfunctions to the boil.

with its biting script, it’s only the end of the world is a banquet of barbarity, pestilential prose singing on the palates of sumptuously psychotic characters. dishing up a full three-courses of feisty trade-offs and flying fists, the film is saturated with stomach-clenching tension and nail-biting bitching.

gaspard ulliel’s luscious good looks lend themselves to languid lead, louis, a gay dying playwright who reunites with his long-lost family, intending to spill all of the beans over plates of antipasti. between the barbed remarks of bolshie brother, antoine (vincent cassel), forced frivolity of mother, martine (nathalie baye) and unpredictable explosions of self-indulgent sister, suzanne (léa seydoux), it’s a recipe for disaster. he chokes.

sole secret-keeper, then, is sister-in-law, catherine (marion cotillard) – between the screaming and shouting, and mumbled mouthfuls of strained conversation, she somehow deciphers the truth of louis’s impromptu return.

their clipped exchanges fizz with an uncomfortable, unnamed, not-quite-platonic chemistry – an inexplicable affinity. arguably, catherine is almost envious of louis’s opportunity to escape the sad reality that surrounds them.

Its Only the End of the World

nathalie baye, vincent cassel, marion cotillard, gaspard ulliel, and léa seydoux in ‘it’s not the end of the world’ (2016) – image courtesy of financial times

far too preoccupied by their public meltdowns and ill-timed explosions, by the film’s close, the rest of louis’s family remain blissfully unaware of the real purpose of his visit.

after a powerful and poignant final showdown, hearts are broken and backs are stabbed as louis makes a swift exit, forced to leave his stunned siblings in a silence more stinging than their twelve-year estrangement. think family-brawl-at-christmas at it’s best.

caked in rich layers of sublime cinematography, peppered with a pumping soundtrack, dolan presents a french classic so delicious, it ought to be devoured whole. but it’s not for everyone – a slow cooker, this fiery flick won’t impress if you like your entertainment served up cold.

based on a play, it’s script heavy, fuelled by the nonsensical actions of the characters alone and lacking any conceivable sense of plot. the premise, essentially, centres on a dying man’s extended moment of existential reflection.

so if, like antoine, you’re not partial to poetic musings, it’ll probably leave a bad taste in your mouth. all others should prepare to fill their face.