“More than ever”, the ultimate film by Gaspard Ulliel: a meditation on death through the story of a couple


More than ever can only be a strange experience of cinema, since it features the last appearance of its actor, Gaspard Ulliel, died in a skiing accident in January, at the age of 37. The viewer will spend a whole screening struggling with this tragic event, trying to put it aside, although it constantly superimposes itself on Emily Atef’s images, to the point of transforming the fiction into an involuntary document.

It is all the more disturbing that the film is intended as a meditation on death, filmed through the story of a man, Mathieu (Gaspard Ulliel), and a woman, Hélène (Vicky Krieps), who suffers of an incurable autoimmune disease. No longer supporting the embarrassed pity she reads in the eyes of those close to her, the young woman will gradually isolate herself, embrace solitude and the company of a Norwegian blogger in the same state as her.

Apart from its painfully prophetic overtones, the film, centered on the story of Hélène’s isolation, seeks to capture as closely as possible how illness reconfigures love, social life, the very idea of ​​the future. And how it quickly becomes unbearable to be a dying woman among the living. Hélène travels alone to Norway to find this blogger, who lends her his little cabin near a fjord. In her retirement, the young woman lives on little, walks, sleep, meals taken in the company of her new friend, and under the eye of a Norwegian sun that never declines.

Norwegian exile

In this landscape caught in the ice, the disease boils down to a much more bearable state of floating. This is what seems to interest Emily Atef: to free illness from its sole medical and social apprehension, by moving it into the midst of an indifferent nature. A saving deterritorialization for the heroine as for the film: extricating itself from France, More than ever also stands out from French cinema and its automatisms, in which the first part, which was more of a set-up, was engulfed.

This Norwegian exile represents a stasis, a space-time devoted to the observation of its actress, Vicky Krieps: the camera captures with close-up shots this face that looks like a little owl, a strange afterglow of young Meryl Streep. The Luxembourg actress turns out to be fundamentally unrooted, still on the run – an escape which had, moreover, begun with Hug me tight, by Mathieu Amalric (2021).

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Reduced to video appearances, Mathieu ends up joining Hélène. It is also here that their love is finally embodied, especially during a very beautiful embrace scene, moist, long and inevitably moving as the last residues of fiction dissolve there. We will let the spectator discover the last sequence which, by choosing to slowly remove Mathieu from our gaze, seals the fate of the film, alternately portrait of an actress and tomb of images for an actor.

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“More than ever”, the ultimate film by Gaspard Ulliel: a meditation on death through the story of a couple

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