The French actress starred in ‘Everything’s Good’, in which director François Ozon addresses the issue of euthanasia.
In four decades she has never ceased to be regarded as one of France’s great actresses, but it was not long ago that she starred in a film with the credentials and thematic scope of ‘Everything went well’. Based on the book of the same name by Emmanuel Bernheim, in which the author recounts the process that culminated in her father’s assisted suicide, the first collaboration between the actress and the productive director François Ozon approaches the subject of euthanasia, and pays less attention to ethical dilemmas as logistical complications. The film hits theaters this Friday.
Do you think ‘Everything went well’, a film about death, is particularly relevant in times of pandemic?
Unavoidable. In the West we do not want to talk about death, we turn our backs on it, we pretend to be immortal. I myself, for example, can not go to funerals, I even missed those of some good friends. And suddenly the coronavirus made us face reality: one day we will all die. It is important to accept that certainty.
The debate over the right to die is open in large parts of the world. What do you think of him?
The book on which the movie is based is from 2013, and at that time the laws were much stricter, at least in my country. Currently, I do not know if anyone in practice would actually go to jail for helping a loved one die with dignity. Also, I think there is a lot of hypocrisy about it. Some argue that palliative care is a euphemistic form of euthanasia, which denies decision-making power to the patient but rather gives it to physicians.
Do you support euthanasia?
Honestly, I do not know and I will not know unless I find myself in a situation that forces me to make my decision, but in any case, I believe that, in general, the individual has jurisdiction over his own life . However, I think we as a society need to prevent people from dying alone. I think a lot about those who died alone, in the hospital, during the pandemic. What a nightmare, how much pain. The thought of dying alone terrifies me.
You lost your father yourself during the production of the film …
It is true. But the dad in the movie has nothing to do with mine, so I prefer not to talk about it. Certain personal questions have always bothered me, and that political opinions are expected of me just because I am an actress. I do not want to be a role model or an easy target for haters. Ideally, the public would no longer regard me as a screen presence.
“I like getting older, and I feel better now than I did 20 years ago. I see my body as a tool.”
In that sense, ‘Everything went well’ is only the second film to be released in six years. Why?
I needed time to think, to choose, to question my own desire to be an actress. And time to protect myself from media exposure. I’m a famous woman and eyes are on me, and sometimes it’s unbearable for me. I would like to be able to walk in the crowd and not be watched, but that is not possible. As soon as I leave the house they photograph me. What can I do? Are they stoning?
Fame has followed her since she, at just 13 years old, starred in ‘La fiesta’ (1980). How do you remember that beginning?
I suddenly became the center of attention, and without really wanting to, so it was hard. Overnight I saw how I changed into another person, they even changed my name. The only thing I wanted from a young age was to work and earn a living independently. Today things are very different, today’s children do not have those goals; their sole purpose is to be rich and popular. For me, it is important to establish the importance of work in my children.
What relationship does it maintain over time?
I’m not going to fight against time, it’s going to be a losing battle. I prefer to have him as a friend. Actually, I like getting older, and I feel better now than I did 20 years ago. I see my body as a tool: I need it to work well, because if it does not work, my life becomes complicated. Growing old bothers me because it brings me closer to death, and I love life. Also, as soon as we cross the 50 mark, we start losing more loved ones, receiving more terrible news and getting more blows. I think it’s an achievement to grow old despite these circumstances.
Direction Francois Ozon
interpreter Sophie Marceau, André Dussollier, Geraldine Pailhas, Hanna Schygulla, Charlotte Rampling
Premiere 28 January 2022