Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)
The highlight in Wim Wenders’ soapy international co-production comes early on. An accident and the chilling realisation that follows sets a standard not matched again. Instead, we get a stale melodrama that spends two hours coming to terms with the tragedy in an increasingly unconvincing fashion.
James Franco, channelling a confusing mixture of frazzled unease and corpse like calm plays writer Tomas. Two novels down at the start, he’s also in an unhappy relationship with Sara, played by Rachel McAdams showcasing her German accident again for no particular reason. It’s only the first of many superfluous relationships that will form in the film. Tomas will later gain a wife (Marie-Josée Croze) and step-child (Lilah Fitzgerald and then Julia Sarah Stone) who exist mostly as props to raise the stakes when threat beckons.
Crossing eleven years, the narrative circles back to the accident repeatedly, and to the unavoidable bond between Tomas, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s mother Kate and her son Christopher (played at different stages by Jack Fulton, Philippe Vanasse-Paquet and Robert Naylor). Of all the unbelievable tripe packed into the film, the scenes between Tomas and Kate head the list. The two practically read off cue cards with each other, delivering painfully faux-poignant lines left to hang in the air in the hope that they discover more purpose.
Wielding an international cast, and including funding from Germany, Canada, France, Sweden and Norway, it’s no wonder it all becomes lowest common denominator postcard drama. There’s picturesque nature, kids playing in the dying of the light, and upmarket housing to admire. Buried underneath it all is a rocky journey of healing and redemption for Tomas and Christopher, one marked by forced emotions and manufactured confrontations. That Tomas is not yet over the trauma is hammered home as he seeks or denies contact with the family, and rows over his placid reaction to a fairground crash.
The only saving grace is an effective sense of unease Wenders’ whips up semi-regularly. Using the drawn out motif from the opening tragedy, he’s able to summon fear and apprehension on several later occasions, even if they ultimately come to nothing. Credit goes to Alexandre Desplat for yet another impressive score that allows for this effect, made all the more remarkable given he only finished it a week before the premiere.
One good trick can only distract for so long before this half-baked melodrama runs out of places to hide. Every Thing Will Be Fine tries hard to mean something without meaning a thing.
Director: Wim Wenders
Writer: Bjørn Olaf Johannessen
Stars: James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Runtime: 118 mins