Friday, June 10, 2016

Blu-ray/DVDebut: Wim Wenders' angst- and surprise-laden EVERY THING WILL BE FINE

I can't remember the last time I found a movie so trying to sit through for its first half, and then slowly became so involved in the second half that, by the finale, it had me in tears. Such a film, for better or worse, is EVERY THING WILL BE FINE, the new one from the popular German arthouse director, Wim Wenders. What Wenders does here is about as risky as it gets these days, in terms of audience approval. He delays and delays and delays our gratification and involvement with his main character to the point -- if you look at the critical reviews and audience response to the film -- of near obliteration. Even TrustMovies must admit that, had he not received a complementary disc (along with an obligation to cover this film), he might have stopped watching midway and moved on to something else. He is very glad he didn't do this.

Actors are often attracted to roles that occasion angst, guilt, and depressive behavior (and why not, as these so often win awards). Part of the problem very soon into the film is that James Franco (below) is not an actor who fares well with this sort of role. He can seem all-too-shallow for one thing, and he needs real specifics from which to build a character. Initially, at least, Wenders (shown at right) and his screenwriter, Bjørn Olaf Johannessen, don't provide these. Franco plays Tomas, a novelist who is evidently somewhat blocked and whose main characteristic seems to be that, despite the sub-zero temperatures, he forgets to close doors to the outside.

Fifteen minutes into the film, after a sudden shock of an incident, we are handed an ever greater shock, and the movie, for a time, clicks in. This is due partially to the actress Charlotte Gainsbourg (below), who does "depressed" with the best of them.

Tomas, in fact, treats her character better than he treats his longtime girlfriend -- another somewhat wasted role for the often excellent Rachel McAdams (below, left) -- and later in the film will treat his next girlfriend, played by Marie-Josée Croze (at left, two photos down), with equal unconcern bordering on disdain.

But Wenders has something more on his mind. During his film a number of years pass -- nearly a decade or more, I believe -- and in that time, things and people begin to change to the point where we finally become much more involved with them and their issues. Time is said to be the great healer, but it can act as something more. It bridges huge gaps, and when telescoped as interestingly as it is here, it shows us things and makes us understand them in ways we might not have otherwise done.

The Gainsbourg character has a son whom we meet early on (below) then later see as he grows up (as a teenager, he is quite beautifully played by young actor Robert Naylor). Tomas' odd bond with both the Gainsbourg character and her son is key to the movie, and as this bond grows and changes, the film takes on enormous resonance, with its ultimate scene a pure and emotional amazement.

Every Thing Will Be Fine is also quite a beautiful film to view. I believe it was originally shot in 3D, and even on the rather spectacular Blu-ray transfer the film has been given, there are a number of moments in which you can almost see that 3D come to life. (This is one of the better Blu-ray transfers I've yet viewed.)

All of which is by way of saying, stick with Wenders' movie and you may be very surprised how moved and connected you will eventually feel. Even Franco -- about whose work I run hot and cold -- finally acquits himself surprisingly well. And McAdams gets one scene toward the end in which she absolutely shines.

From IFC Films and running 119 minutes, the movie hit the street on Blu-ray and DVD this past Tuesday, June 7 -- for purchase or rental. On the Blu-ray extras, there are interviews with Wenders and most of his cast (Franco is the exception). These are quite interesting and offer additional worth to the overall experience.

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