Everything will be fine reviews

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  • Review of the Berlinale 2022.

We are all guilty. In this dreamlike dystopian meditation on the ills of humanity, Rithy Panh and her co-screenwriters Christophe Bataille and Agnès Sénémaud want us to understand and recognize this truism. Animals, they show us, are cruelly slaughtered to satisfy human appetites and the earth is catastrophically plundered to satisfy human greed.

You already knew that, but if you’re looking for a litany of all the bad we’ve done, one softened by close-ups of pretty ceramic figurines of humble, terrified enslaved humanity, like in Animal Farm from George Orwell, by abducting animals, then this movie is for you. You might need a stronger stomach, though, to watch the archival footage of real animal and human slaughter, often split with a close-up of a figurine and triplicated in a checkerboard pattern. in six for who knows what aesthetic effect.

Everything Will Be Fine (2022)

All will be Okay is not a sermon of the slow-building Hellfire variety, but rather a sinister pile of disparate wrongs around the world. It comes from a director whose career grew out of documenting the genocidal crimes of the Khmer Rouge in his native Cambodia that led to the elimination of his own family.

The consequences of these crimes are the focus of his incisive documentaries Site 2 (1989), Rice People (1994), The Land of the Wandering Souls, S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2000) and Duch, Master of the Forges. . from Hell (2012). But beginning with his similar theme The Missing Picture (2013), Panh moved away from traditional documentary techniques to use, alongside archival footage, ceramic figures (made by sculptor Mang Sarith) in scenes illustrations of motionless dioramas. With Irradiated (2020), he expanded the scope of his jeremiads to include other atrocities such as the Holocaust, atomic bombs and the Vietnam War. Here he widens his embrace to the causes of misery and terror affecting all sentient beings. A little exaggerated, that.

The tongue-in-cheek title of the film is taken from the T-shirt of a teenager killed during the 2021 pro-democracy protests in Myanmar. It begins with a black Kubrick monolith rising from the ground, its majesty mocked by the relatively large grains of sand surrounding it. Soon we are in a dystopian playground setting with the Statue of Liberty, looking like an ancient survival of a dead religion, about to be overthrown by the animal revolutionaries – monkeys, lions and buffaloes among them – and replaced with an image of their leader, a warthog with golden arms (qualified by Panh in an interview as a sort of Pol Pig, named after the Khmer leader Pol Pot).

Everything Will Be Fine (2022)

By fusing Orwell’s quadrupedal revolution with dystopia SF ideas about cross-species mutation, everything will be Okay works his allegory sadly, paralyzed by the evidence of his message. The mutations are done in a very crude way – no doubt in deliberate joking – with the figurines of humans growing rhino horns and deer antlers and having huge SIM– Maps embedded in their back.

One problem with static dioramas being so elaborately constructed is that they force the director to get the most value out of them. Everyone lingers much longer than necessary to make their case. These sequences are similar to a forced visit to a museum. You have to look at it and look at it from this angle and then this close-up even if the shot changes don’t seem to add much more than heightened wonder to the skill of the artisans.

Dwelling on motionless figures in this way erodes for me the initial fascination created by the contrast between the toy character of the figurines and the horrors they depict. Another problem is that by substituting animal noises – howling pigs, howler monkeys and other high-pitched sounds – for the speeches of fascist and communist demagogues, Panh undermines sympathy even for the animals he advocates. Perhaps this contradiction is there to remind us that some animals are more equal than others.

As for the voice-over essay, read by Rebecca Marder, it often comes across as the kind of vapid sloganeering that trivializes debate on social media. Altogether, too many targets are targeted, and Panh’s visual quotes are often all too familiar, whether it’s the usual clips of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis workers or the slaughter footage that’s used time and time again in documentaries. on industrial cruelty to livestock. Too many images that one hoped never to see again present themselves here, but in a way that dissipates rather than concentrates their strength.

Originally published: February 18, 2022

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