TIFF REVIEW: Every Thing Will Be Fine

'Every Thing Will Be Fine': Strength in Subtlety
September 15, 2015 Updated: September 15, 2015

TORONTO— “Every Thing Will Be Fine” is not a film for Hollywood and the Cineplex masses. For much of its two hours, it is understated to a fault.

James Franco leads as Tomas, a brooding writer left emotionally stunted by a tragic accident. It’s hard to know what he feels, however—he keeps it buried beneath a furrowed brow. The violins of the film’s score do much of the heavy lifting in letting less attentive viewers know exactly what emotion is playing out.

The accident is the darkest chapter of the film, but for Tomas there does seem to be a side-effect. His career as a writer climbs with every passing year, even if he somehow remains emotionally locked down and cut off from everyone who loves him.

And this is where the strength of the film appears—in its subtlety. There are words left unsaid, feelings left permanently buried, and loss that languishes in remorse not quite potent enough to boil over into despair.

Canadian Rachel McAdams play Tomas’s long-suffering girlfriend, a woman waiting for a man to open up, to give himself to her, only to be let down again and again.

Tomas is never quite the man one might want him to be, and that too is honest. Franco plays a character who seeks just enough redemption to make himself satisfied but not enough to make it meaningful.

It’s hard to share much of the plot without giving too much of it away. This is not a film with an abundance of plot. It is as much about what doesn’t happen as what does, and it tries to make that point in part through 3-D.

It’s not the first drama to be shot in 3-D, but still among a small enough club to make it unique. “Every Thing Will Be Fine” uses the layered effect of 3-D to add to the theme rather than the action.

This is a film about everyday people facing everyday tragedy, and it captures that with dignity and sincerity.

And that’s where it falls short. Too often it begs the question, “Where is this going?” And in the end, it seems not terribly far, but small are the changes of a man and few are the average person’s great adventures. This is a film about everyday people facing everyday tragedy, and it captures that with dignity and sincerity.

McAdams pulls off a reasonable French accent and offers some of the emotion needed to make the film more engaging. But this movie is mainly about an absence of emotion or least an absence of expression, so it’s not surprising that she doesn’t stick around for long.

For those who want to sit back and be enthralled, “Everything Will Be Fine” likely won’t deliver. For those who want to pay attention, to look at and think about what they are seeing, it offers a chance to consider what moves people, and what common gestures really mean.