More than ever |

content / criticism

Als Helena (Vicky Krieps) receives the news that she is suffering from an incurable lung disease, she is not the only one who falls into a serious crisis. Also her environment, including her partner Mathieu (Gaspard ulliel), doesn’t really know how to handle the situation. She keeps arguing with him, but also with family and friends. Everyone involved has their nerves on edge. Even the prospect of perhaps receiving a donor lung and being able to live longer does not bring Hélène any improvement. The 33-year-old only finds actual consolation in the blog of a Norwegian who only sees Mister (Bjørn Floberg) and reports on his own experiences with a serious illness. And so she decides to make the long journey north to meet the blogger and find an answer for herself on how she wants to deal with her situation…

About life with death

Emily Atef is a specialist when it comes to female characters who deal with existential questions. In kill me she told of a youngster who desperately wants to die and enlists the help of a criminal to do so. In the award-winning drama 3 Tagus in Quiberon she showed a fictionalized form of the last big interview, which was drawn from life Romy Schneider gave before her death. In More than ever, the director’s latest work, she describes a situation that is much less unusual: a person dies. Nobody can say how long the protagonist has left. Perhaps she will also find the saving lungs that a few years can give her. But the fact remains, she has no real future, at least not in the form that a young person should have.

There are of course plenty of films on the subject. For a while, the studios seemed to be in a race to tell the more tragic story. Destiny is a lousy traitor moved audiences around the world to tears. that does More than ever also. And yet the European co-production can hardly be compared to other films about seriously ill young people who try to profit from individual suffering in often somewhat questionable ways. Of course there are some sad situations in the two hours. For example, it is heartbreaking when Hélène and Mathieu try to make love physically again, like they did when everything was good. But the increasingly destroyed body denies her this memory of happy days.

The search for the right answer

But that’s what Atef and her co-author, who is familiar with tragic stories, are all about Lars Hubrich (Rival, Auerhaus) not at all. The two do not want to address the dying process itself, but rather the question of how people deal with it. It is well known that nobody really likes to think about the subject of death, let alone talk about it. It is correspondingly difficult in More than ever everyday life because they are all overwhelmed in their own way and are looking for the right answer without knowing what it can look like. There are unworldly perseverance slogans, you act as if nothing happened. Others do too much like the overwhelmed mother who wants to spend every minute with her daughter. And Mathieu is also determined not to leave his partner alone for a second.

That is understandable. And actually that sounds kind of nice: obituaries or messages always emphasize when someone died in the circle of their loved ones. Those who do so, it is implied, are making the best of the situation. More than ever however, questions this. Hélène’s trip to Norway and the associated departure from home does not mean that she is running away from the problems or that she is looking for death, even if both allegations are obvious. Instead, she seeks an answer of her own. Seeks a path that suits her, detached from the expectations of others or the norms associated with death. With Atef, the rough nature of Norway, which was there long before the protagonist and will be there long after her, becomes a valuable companion. She finds in it the consolation and peace that is denied to her in the midst of people.

The story of a great love

The drama, which was presented at the film festival of Cannes 2022 premiered, but does not insist on any spiritual instructions. It also doesn’t set any new norms about how to die “right”. Instead, it is understood as a request to allow one of the most intimate experiences in human life – the slow end – to the individual. That also means having to hurt other people when in doubt. More than ever is not only the story of an imminent death. The film is above all a love story about two people who have to learn to let each other go after a few very happy years together. This happens without kitsch or manipulative drama. And yet it leaves an impression: Vicky Krieps (Corsage) and Gaspard Ulliel, who died tragically this year (It was once a second time) draw the picture of a couple that alternates between closeness and distance, happiness and sadness. A great love that finds its end and at the same time finds a way to continue.


OT: “More than ever”
IT: „More Than Ever“
Land: France, Germany, Norway, Luxembourg
Year: 2022
Director: Emily Atef
Script: Emily Atef, Lars Hubrich
Music: Jon Balke
Camera: Yves Cape
Occupation: Vicky Krieps, Gaspard Ulliel, Bjørn Floberg

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