Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)

Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)
  • Time: 118 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Wim Wenders
  • Cast: James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Peter Stormare


While driving aimlessly after a quarrel with his girlfriend, a writer accidentally runs over and kills a child. The accident and its aftermath deeply traumatizes him. Over the next 12 years, he struggles to make sense of what happened and continue on with life, but when he looks in the mirror, he sees a murderer.

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  • “We can only try to believe there’s meaning to this,” Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Kate whispers in Wilm Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine. For viewers who have remained with the fil up until that point, that line may be adopted as a masochistic mantra. The film creeps at a petty pace, devoid of sound of fury, signifying nothing. This emotionally wintry tale of grief, guilt and the dawning realisation that time may not always heal all wounds is a particular disappointment considering the German director’s previous 3D effort, Pina (it’s been too long since Wenders put forth a narrative film since his heyday; will we ever see something near the level of Kings of the Road, Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas from him again?).

    Where Pina was all about kineticism, Every Thing Will Be Fine is an exercise in inertia. James Franco portrays novelist Tomas, who is already marinating in malaise before the film’s central tragedy further internalises his ennui. Struggling with his writing, he has sequestered himself in an outhouse near his home somewhere in Quebec. He can barely tolerate calls from his girlfriend Sara (Rachel McAdams), who is impatient for him to return home. Driving through less than ideal conditions, he screeches to a sudden stop as a boy on a sled comes out of nowhere. He’s relieved to find the young boy conscious and seemingly unharmed. He looks around, sees a house in the near distance, and accompanies the boy home.

    The minutes that ensure are the best in the film. The boy remains silent, Tomas tries to make conversation, the snow covers the land as far as the eye can see, it feels as if Tomas and the boy might be the only two people left on earth. Wenders masterfully calibrates the escalating dread; something is surely amiss. Tomas knocks on the door, Kate opens it and smiles at her boy, Tomas explains what happened, and then… “Where’s Nicolas?” She runs to Tomas’ car and gives an anguished scream as her surviving son plays inside the house.

    Tomas’ remorse results in a 12-year narrative arc that includes a separation from Sara, a half-hearted suicide attempt, absolution from Kate, a newfound depth and maturity to his writing, and a relationship with Ann (Marie-Josée Croze), who is disturbed by his imperturbable calm. On paper, there appears to be much that happens. Onscreen, very little truly unfolds. Unfortunately, Every Thing Will Be Fine’s themes make themselves plain too quickly. When the mother forgives the man responsible for her child’s death within the first half hour, then that man’s residual self-blame can only come off as indulgent and pointless.

    Bjørn Olaf Johannessen’s screenplay has a Nordic sensibility which may have been better served had the film been set in Sweden rather than Quebec. Which is not to confine its themes for they are universal, but something has been lost in the transfer from page to screen and that may be a contributing factor. Franco’s soporific performance is another hindrance as is McAdams’ distracting accent. Most problematically, this hardly bears Wenders’ fingerprints. If anything, the whole enterprise strikes one as a work by Atom Egoyan, so similar is the tale to The Sweet Hereafter, a far stronger and more resonant tale of lingering trauma.

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