We met François Ozon, during the presentation in Bordeaux of the film “Everything went well”. With sincerity, he spoke of his friend Emmanuelle Berheim, who co-wrote several of his scripts, as well as the way he approached the adaptation of his eponymous book or the birth of his desire to make a film.
François Ozon adapts Emmanuèle Bernheim
With Everything went well, François Ozon adapted from the eponymous novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim, who died on May 10, 2017 of cancer. At 85, the latter’s father was hospitalized after a stroke. When he wakes up, finding himself too weakened, he announces to his daughter that he wishes to die and asks her for her help. The father, André, is played by André Dussollier while Sophie Marceau plays Emmanuelle and her sister Pascale is played by Geraldine Pailhas. We caught up with filmmaker François Ozon to talk about his adaptation.
Why did you adapt Everything went well, the eponymous book of your late friend Emmanuelle Bernheim?
I cannot tell you precisely, it is something that is necessary. Emmanuelle Bernheim sent me the proofs of her book in 2013, asking me if I was interested in adapting it. But at the time, I didn’t feel capable of it. And other directors have taken an interest in it, such as Alain Cavalier. He had to do an adaptation with Emmanuelle in his own role and he had to play his father, a bit like in his film Pater with Vincent Lindon. It was a little hard for him because Emmanuelle developed her devastating cancer, so the movie didn’t happen. But he made a very nice documentary, To be alive and to know it, in which we see images of Emmanuelle with whom he talks about this film project.
And after Emmanuelle’s death in 2017, I wanted to read the book again to find her and I felt ready. It’s always a question of timing, like Summer 1985, book I read when I was 20 years old. It took me 30 years. I think things need to mature and then you know now is the right time.
By adapting her book after her death, did you feel any kind of moral debt to her?
I felt responsible for living up to what she wrote and experienced. It’s a bit of an experience that I had already lived with Thanks to God, where I also had real people alive and to whom I also felt a responsibility. She will never have seen the film, but I know those around her are very happy.
Your film deals with euthanasia, a difficult subject, but it is not a film about death?
That’s what I liked about Emmanuelle’s book. Make the film on the side of life and make sure it isn’t morbid. Because the great paradox of the film is that it’s the story of André, a man who has an appetite for life and if he wants to die, it’s because he no longer has the means. to have the life he wants. I don’t make message films and the topic of euthanasia doesn’t interest me more than that. It was family ties that interested me and how such a decision impacts within a family.
Has working on this story changed your outlook on euthanasia?
What shocks me is that the Leonetti law does not allow people to leave in happy conditions, with their families. If it seems normal to me to accompany his parents to age well, I think that it should be up to society and the medical profession to take care of it, and not to us, the children, to accompany them in death, in Switzerland. or in Belgium. But Sophie Marceau, for her part, thinks so.
Was it interesting to show a woman writer confronted with the harsh reality that prevents her from writing and giving free rein to her imagination?
I realized while filming that what Emmanuelle had gone through must have been hell and that it must have had an impact on her life. I don’t make the connection, but she had a dazzling cancer a few years later, and I tell myself that it must not have been so trivial to have to organize this. It was Pascale who told me that her father André had suggested that Emmanuelle should write a book because it would be a good inspiration. Pascale assured me that, above all, she hadn’t told her sister because otherwise she would never have written it. Besides, it took a while because André died in 2009 and the book was published in 2013.
How did you go about carefully avoiding the pathos?
I didn’t want to be in pathos and there are no scenes …