Being only one of two directors from the German “new wave” cinema still making internationally distributed films (Werner Herzog being the other), we undeniably just accept Wim Wenders’ quirks. I mean, this is the man that brought us the incredible Paris, Texas, which gains him a fan every time someone picks it up for the first time. This makes us intrigued by an almost five hour cut of his road mystery, but I do find his foray into 3D filmmaking questionable. Why does he need this for his dramatic films?
As a stylistic choice, I’ve always felt 3D to be too gimmicky for me to get behind, save a few films like Avatar (which is the only way the film is any good) and this year’s The Walk, in which it really adds to the experience of the film. Wenders has stated that he will use this technology for all the films he is making, which started with Pina in 2011. The film, a documentary about contemporary dance choreographer Pina Bausch, had a very positive critical response, being called “immersive and utterly transfixing”. The film went on to be nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary category, which it unfortunately lost. Wenders continued on bringing his new love for this format to his new film.
Every Thing Will Be Fine is a dour and depressing drama about a writer’s inability to deal with his own guilt in a proper way. James Franco plays Tomas, a writer in a crossroads of his life. He and his long time girlfriend Sara (Rachel McAdams) are at a crucial time in their relationship. She wants to start a family while Tomas wants to focus solely on his writing, case in point following up his two already well received books. This quandary of his relationship has put him deeply within a bout of writer’s block and at the beginning of the film we see him staying in a ice fishing hut, trying to write a few pages a day.
One evening Tomas decides it’s time to come home and make a decision. Tragically, on his way, he accidentally runs over a young boy on a rural road due to some distracted driving. This ends up massively shifting Tomas’s focus as he internalizes all his guilt and puts it into his next book, which becomes a big hit. The young boy’s mother, Kate (Charlotte Gainsbourg), an artist and homemaker, finds herself unable to move past the death of her son, whose brother is also emotionally troubled from the tragedy. Kate’s ability to create art deteriorates as she externalizes all of her guilt. Yes, just as billed, this is a 3D film about guilt.
So, does the 3D work? Is it necessary? In a short answer, no. That’s not just a statement about this viewing aspect, as it applies to the whole film. Every thing is definitely not fine in this film and it starts from the top down. Wenders doesn’t really have much to say in this film about a damaged lead character who sleepwalks his way from one conversation to the next with heavy sighs in between. Tomas is never anyone to care about and the weight of killing this young boy doesn’t do a lot to change his depressing outlook.
As many problems as the story and direction give in this film, the actors do nothing to elevate the film at all. James Franco is very heavy handed in this somber lead performance with Rachel McAdams awkwardly delivering her dialogue with a false sounding French-Canadian accent opposite him. Gainsbourg is completely wasted in her performance, being relegated to long weeping scenes and other such gloominess. I would mention Marie-Josée Croze’s part in this film but she takes a major backseat, playing more of just a “moving on” foil character to show Tomas’s ability to grow into a family lifestyle through the years.
Throughout this film it feels like Wim Wenders is trying to play up this deep human drama but he keeps substituting the raw emotion with incredibly false feeling melodrama, which may hurt your head more than the eye pulling 3D glasses. This is all added to the fact that this film continuously cruises on the same level of solemnness before trying to do something a little bit intriguing near the end. It’s too bad the audience was already lost in the first hour of this monotonous and depressing film.
I will never count this brilliant German director as someone who has run out of things to say. Even in a dud like Every Thing Will Be Fine, Wenders has some staggering shots and long takes that have an austere simplicity in their beauty. If there was more substance behind it maybe it would have won me over, but instead I feel like I wasted a couple of hours. This being said, I give it a one and a half out of five.