A breathtaking meditation on apocalypse & grief from a refreshingly simple & movingly human

I went to see ‘Everything in the End’ at IndieCork last month knowing very little about the film or the director Mylissa Fitzsimmons. I was intrigued by the synopsis and image in the programme enough to go to the film and had the feeling that it was either going to be really good or really bad. As a film that was about earth’s final days I was just praying that zombies wouldn’t be making an appearance. And my god, was I pleasantly surprised.

The film is beautiful, meditatively paced, and wonderfully simple. The story follows a troubled young man, Paulo, as he navigates Iceland’s tormented and unforgiving landscape that rhymes with the grief and existential dread the character is experiencing. Paulo is a sensitive, gentle soul, played by Hugo De Sousa with a great deal of vulnerability and enough angst to rival Søren Kierkegaard. He finds himself for some seemingly unknown reason on foreign shores in the last days of earth, when an equally obscure natural, or perhaps unnatural, disaster is imminent that will wipe out all of humanity. Everyone knows this, and everyone is trying to make peace with themselves, with the universe, and reach out to others and connect in their final days. This is when the film gets really interesting as it is not so much about the impending apocalypse but the connections Paulo makes with others in his final moments, and these moments are simple, spontaneous, and beautifully human.

The film is made up of so many beautiful, fleetingly joyful, scenes, that play so bittersweetly given the context that surrounds them. The characters voices are sometimes almost lost to the wind and the overwhelming presence of nature stands over the small events of the story. But it is not so much about the words, Fitzsimmons makes this clear, many scenes are without dialogue or, as said, cannot be heard and there are many other languages in the film that are not translated. The film, it seems, is more about the actions of the characters and the humanity that they all share. Paulo’s motivations are intriguing, he connects deeply with each character but must keep going, bound by some hidden pilgrimage that leads him to his last end. There is almost something Dantean about it in that regard. It also reminded me somewhat of Von Trier’s Melancholia and the idea that when we are grieving or in despair, it feels like the whole world is ending. In this sense I do not think the film is meant to be taken completely literally, it is an inner landscape that Paulo is struggling through and it is a film that is meant to be felt rather than logically understood.

The free and spontaneous cinematography capturing the breathtakingly stark beauty of Iceland also reminded me somewhat of Terrence Malick’s later work. Cinematographer Todd Hickey has a poetic attention to detail; a close up of a toppled teacup rocking from side to side, some empty clothes pegs shivering in the cold; whilst also paying attention to the vastness of the surroundings and nature’s rising fury as the end approaches. I was actually surprised that the film was made by an American crew as I felt that the study of landscape, the style, and pacing all felt very Icelandic!

This film brought up a hell of a lot for me in a very brief hour and fifteen minutes, and the slow burn, meditative pace allows you to reflect more deeply upon its themes. The thing that I found so clever and moving about the film is that director Mylissa Fitzsimmons breaks down all of the background noise of the modern world and culture. The impending doom makes everything irrelevant, everything except basic human connection and closure. We are all going to die, this is what Fitzsimmons is reminding us of, but not in a morose or depressing way but an empathetic, and strangely uplifting way. It reminds us of what life is really about when it comes to the end; love, interconnectivity, and the simple joys of shared human experience. These values are, after all, everything in the end.

Highly recommended.

  • Running Time: 1Hour and 15Minutes
  • Rated: PG
  • Written & Directed by Mylissa Fitzsimmons.
  • Cast: Hugo de Sousa, Bergdis Julia Johannsdottir, Lilja Þórisdóttir, Joi Johannsson, Elizabeth
    Austin, Gunnar Ragnarsson, Raúl Portero, Reynir Ingvason, Kolbrún Erna Pétursdóttir, Ylfa
    Marín Haraldsdóttir, Helga Kristín Helgadóttir.

Review By Tommy Creagh

Watch the Trailer