Tout est parfait (Everything Is Fine) (Director: Yves Christian Fournier): I’d read some strong reviews of this film a few months back and was looking forward to checking it out. The premise is intriguing: Josh (Maxime Dumontier) is a typical teenager living in a suburb in Québec. He has a group of friends with whom he skateboards and parties. Then one day he finds the body of his friend Thomas, who’s hanged himself in his room. The recent suicide of his friend Sasha still fresh in his mind, he’s sent reeling when he realizes that Alex and Simon, the others in his group of pals, have also killed themselves. He’s been left out of their pact, and he’s suddenly very alone.
His only connections to the friends he’s lost are Henri, Thomas’s layabout father, and Mia, the ex-girlfriend of Sasha. In the already insular world of teenage boys, he cuts himself even further off from his terrified parents, and stonewalls the counselor he’s required to see at school. Only with Mia does he seem to forget the inexplicable tragedy, indulging in the crush he’d harboured for a long time, though not without guilt. With Henri, he tries to bond over golf, a sport he doesn’t really like, but one with which Henri had always tried to interest Thomas, without success. Other than that, we don’t really get to know Josh at all, and even less about his friends, even though there are some flashbacks as he revisits old haunts.
The pace of the film is incredibly slow, and there is very little dialogue to help flesh out the characters. We see glimpses of Josh with each of his friends, but there is very little sense of what made them such a tight-knit group. The mystery of why Josh is still here is therefore not of as much interest as it should be, and when it is “solved” at the end of the film, it comes both too suddenly and too late. Even so, the senselessness of the suicides is never disturbed by any kind of explanation. The reasons the boys took their lives are in the end as unknowable as the boys themselves, which, combined with the glacial pacing of the film, made it a bit of a frustrating experience for me. The ending redeems the film a little, along with some fine cinematography and a great soundtrack.
Note: This DVD from Alliance Atlantis is primarily a French release. It does have English subtitles, though every sound effect and action seems to be subtitled as well, which made for some snickering each time the counselor was reduced to <sighing>. Additionally, the special features, including a commentary from the director and writer, are available in French only.