It’s Only the End of the World is my favorite Xavier Dolan movie. Probably thanks to this scenario which, without really saying anything, takes your guts, stirs them, the better to throw them right in your face at the end of an unexpected family race, both distant and close to you. Probably also thanks to the sublime photography of André Turpin, to these languorous shots that let the unsaid pass, and an entirely French and impeccable cast – a first in the career of the Quebec filmmaker. Probably, and above all, because Gaspard Ulliel is at the head of this adventure, he who is the voice of Louis, this character, a renowned writer but an illustrious unknown to his family, who only receives birthday cards from him. After 12 years of absence, this family, made up of Antoine, his impetuous big brother (Vincent Cassel), a reserved little sister (Léa Seydoux), Antoine’s wife (Marion Cotillard) and an intrusive mother (Nathalie Baye), will fall on him. ‘they hardly understand the reason for his return, the spectator is immediately in on the secret, from the first minutes of the feature film: Louis comes to announce his imminent death. And our eyes are then fixed as much on his relatives, whom we feel are at the limits of understanding, as on Gaspard Ulliel, whom we expect to open up, speak, finally evoke, freely, his fatal destiny. For 90 minutes, Gaspard Ulliel is therefore the mirror that we hold up to the room, we are his eyes that scan this house that he has not seen for a long time, this murmur that tries to make conversation, this hand that comes to the face to smooth out a reflection, these memories which he allows us to witness, to better reconstruct his identity. The staging is suspended when Louis kisses his brother, when there is this exchange of glances with Marion Cotillard, when he smells his mother’s perfume, when he watches his sister smoking in her bedroom. While he tries to find the moment to confess to them, he is confronted with a family that is foreign to him, who grew old without him, and of whom he is afraid. He does not deign to ask any questions, listens without answering almost anything, is faced with people who reproach him for not knowing anything when they are not really interested in his person and ask him questions without interest, whereas the cuckoo of the he clock, still in the background, continues its course. Just the end of the world breathes Gaspard Ulliel so much is his pulse. A pulse of quiet strength, which (re)discovers the dissonances of a family, the better to express its own, to seep into an interstice, while around him his big brother, his mother and his sister try to speak louder than each other, without ever really intending to say anything tangible. For them, everything is in anger, reaction, frustration, incomprehension. For Gaspard Ulliel, it’s all about retention, information and emotions. A feat that will earn him a César in 2017. After 1 hour and 38 minutes, we say to ourselves how perfect this role was for Gaspard Ulliel. An actor with “a sparkling sweetness” as Xavier Dolan pointed out, a few hours after the announcement of his disappearance. We also now know how much Gaspard Ulliel, through Just the end of the world, was the ideal receptacle for this story. Her face, her whispering words, her silences, have become a playground for the spectator, through this beautiful film. “It won’t be enough,” her little sister Suzanne tells her. And yet, there was a world, there, in front of us, on this face that said everything.
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