In Cannes, end-of-life chronicles, from fiction to reality

PLAN 75 **

by Yakawa Chie


by Emily Atef

Official selection – Un certain regard

In a Japan confronted with the strong aging of its population which puts a strain on its economy and its budget, the authorities, to put an end to a cycle of violence against the elderly, passed a law, “Plan 75”, which legitimizes the euthanasia from the age of 75. Given the success of this measure, it will soon apply from the age of 65.

The precariousness and dependence of seniors encourage them to enroll as soon as possible in the government program which helps them to take the plunge and accompanies them. Young advisers converse with them by telephone (fifteen minutes maximum per call) and tell them all the ways to get to the centers where they will be sent. ad patres. A substantial bonus is even paid to them so that they can enjoy their last days. They are strongly encouraged to opt for “collective burials”.

Affects, grains of sand in the administrative machine

This realistic fable is still only a fiction, a work perhaps of slight anticipation. Nothing prevents us from thinking that in the near future governments overwhelmed by this demographic shift, without solution, will come to build similar measures in the name of budgetary balance. Of course, not everything runs so smoothly. The zeal of young civil servants collides with reality. In contact with elders, they cannot put aside their affects indefinitely and only obey the imperative of efficiency. As soon as they attach themselves, in spite of themselves, to such and such a case, there a single 78-year-old woman, there an old uncle lost sight of who reappears to end it, feelings become the grain of sand in the beautiful oiled machine where everything takes place in new-tech, transparent and gleaming decors.

For her first production, the Japanese filmmaker Yakawa Chie strikes hard and hits the mark with this film torn between administrative coldness, bureaucratic rigor, and the melancholy delicacy of these old people, alone and neglected, who are pushed prematurely towards the door of out of existence. There is mingled with this chronicle of methodical inhumanity a touch of poetry, very Japanese, associated with the contemplation of nature, the flight of birds, the sunrises and the eternal return of the seasons which those who must renounce whose society decrees that they have had their day.

Another end-of-life chronicle, More than ever, by Emily Atef, caused a stir for a reason other than its purpose. The film follows the last weeks of a young thirty-year-old from Bordeaux (Vicky Crieps), suffering from cancer, waiting for a hypothetical lung transplant, with such hypothetical results. Hélène rebels against the embarrassed gaze of her friends, their embarrassment in front of her, the eagerness of her husband (Gaspard Ulliel) to want to protect her. She would like to be considered as if nothing had happened but this requirement is impossible to satisfy, neither for the others, nor for her. Nothing is the same anymore.

Another Superimposed Drama

To “get some fresh air”, “breathe again”, she flees to a fjord in Norway, her dream since forever, without her husband, hosted by an old man who has experienced the same pangs and has told them, in his own way. , on a blog that Internet users have spotted. The patients, in search of information, in search of moral support, search the Web a lot. Delivered to the beauty of nature, Hélène decides to abandon herself to the inevitable, to stop fighting, to the despair of her husband who ends up joining her in an attempt to prevent her from giving in to this renunciation.

This very beautiful inner journey, all in delicacy, in repressed pain, in battered courage, is filmed with great restraint, finesse on the path of the disease, with its maddening chasms and its episodic remissions which suggest that the evil has given up to his disastrous task. But on this story where it is easy to project oneself appears, superimposed, another drama, very real this one.

Shot last summer, this is the last film by Gaspard Ulliel, who died at the age of 37 in a mountain accident last January. He bursts with life, especially in beautiful and modest love scenes where the beauty of his body, still in full youth, shines on the big screen. From then on, another film, more tragic, is superimposed in the mind of the spectator: that of this shattered destiny, of this shooting star. The gaze no longer lets go of this post-mortem appearance. We know and he, Gaspard Ulliel, does not know that he will disappear a few months later. Disturbing cinematic experience that always brings the dead to life.


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