France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway


Hélène and Mathieu have been happy together for many years. The bond between them is deep. Faced with an existential decision, Hélène travels alone to Norway to seek peace, an act that will test the strength of their love.

Director's Statement

Molly, Rebecca, Adele, Romy... Since my first film, I have been talking about women who are plunged into the depths of an existential crisis, fighting against others and against themselves before finding themselves confronted with an unexpected event – an event that will mark the beginning of a path, along which they will (re)find hope, desire, connection; their own path. This path is not only an emotional journey, but is also a physical journey.

I myself have travelled a lot, and often even changed countries of residence. Never do I feel as alive as on these occasions: leaving the "known", leaving the "comfort zone" opens one fabulously to the world, and literally allows you to be yourself. That's what happens to the women who are the protagonists in my films. This is also what happens to Hélène in MORE THAN EVER.

Hélène, like Molly, Rebecca, Adèle and Romy from my previous films, lives in our western society, which is still very patriarchal, full of outdated conventions that Hélène has completely integrated, without imagining that she could live otherwise, fully for herself. It is only when confronted with the disease that Hélène dares to make a decision that concerns her, even if it means baffling her loved ones, and especially the man she loves. If she agrees to have a lung transplant, she has a 50% chance of getting out of it, and that is only if her body accepts it, after spending weeks or even months in hospital and then recovering. If she refuses, however... she will die in the upcoming few months.

It is the second path that Hélène decides to choose.

Paradoxically, it is this second path that will allow her to really live, because it is the one that will allow her to free herself from the shackles in which she was trapped until then. It is thanks to her meeting with Mister - the character who carries his name in the title -, first by exchanging emails, then verbally and finally by living with him that she succeeds in changing her point of view on the time that is still given to her to live. Through Hélène, it is a question of feeling how fragile and precious this life is, and that we must know how to taste the honey while there is still time. It depends only on ourselves, men and women - even if, as we have seen, imposing one's desire to do as they please is more difficult for the person itself than for anyone else. It is also a question of changing one's point of view on death itself.

For the first time ever, Hélène takes action, Hélène confronts Mathieu, her companion since she was 20 years old. She faces him and imposes her decision on him, a radical but a liberating decision. It is all the more difficult to maintain as Hélène and Mathieu had devoted themselves to each other with total trust and an unfailing love.

Although we’re not sure when, but even before the film started, Hélène’s first decision was to not get the treatment. Mathieu tried to change her mind, and perhaps he would have succeeded if Hélène had not met Mister. It is he who triggers the possibility of a possible "elsewhere", an elsewhere to breathe - to breathe literally and especially in the figurative sense. Breathe in at last: Hélène was seen to be suffocating in her "previous" life, and it is of course not by chance that the disease from which she will die from is one to do with the lungs.

Moreover, it is thanks to her exchanges with Mister that Hélène decides to go on an adventure, far away. For her, someone who never even had a solo trip, a journey like this is quite extraordinary. And it is in the face of the tranquility of Norwegian nature that Hélène can interact with "Mother Earth". It is being back to her roots and being (re) born. She is finally where her subconscious always called her: in Paris, the stifling and noisy capital, being subject to surrealistic visions.

In MORE THAN EVER nature therefore plays a very important, even predominant role. Dangerous, powerful, uncontrollable; welcoming, harmonious, magnificent: it is the place where roughness and sumptuousness mingle. Nature is either generous or threatening, much like death. We have to accept it as it stands: we have no other choice. And just like in fairy tales, it attracts us when we can get lost and allows us to even succumb to it, but only to be reborn and to find meaning in our own inner turmoil. That's exactly what Hélène endured the day she was so exhausted to the extent that she imagined herself dying there, in this forest, far from everyone. This moment was in fact the foundation of her new life decision. She has found the "right" place, the one that allows her to accept death and it will be her last "journey".

In Paris, Mathieu inevitably sent her back to their common past and made her feel their lost happiness, as well as the future they will not live together, the children they will never have, the journeys they will no longer make and the wrinkles they will not share. These thoughts devastated her, especially since she could not share them with Mathieu who embodies a very Western vision of death - a deadline that has always been postponed, thanks to medical progress. On the contrary, in Solvorn, Hélène only shares the present with Mister, her guide towards resilience - he who has been there for a long time, with the help of age and illness.

Past, present, future. It is the timeline now experienced differently by Hélène and Mathieu that imposes a physical distance on them, without however destroying their unique bond, their malicious complicity and their shared humour which, much like Mister's, allows moments of lightness in the story. In this sense, the film is a carrier of hope and fulfillment.

Director's Biography

Emily Atef is a French-Iranian director born in Berlin. At the age of seven, she moved with her parents and brother to Los Angeles. At the age of thirteen, they moved again to the Jura, France. Later, she lived in London and worked in the theatre. Finally, she moved to Germany to study filmmaking at the German Film Academy in Berlin. Her first feature film MOLLY‘S WAY, like her next two features, was co-written by Esther Bernstorff and won the Best Screenplay Award at the Munich Film Festival in 2005 and the Grand Jury Prize at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, the only A-Festival in South America, as well as several other awards. Her second feature film, THE STRANGER IN ME, about a young mother suffering from postnatal depression, also received several awards and was screened at the ‘Critics Week’ section at the Cannes Film Festival. She then received a grant from the Cinéfondation de Cannes, which she used to write her next film KILL ME. This film was voted best foreign language drama at the 2013 Bradford Film Festival. In 2017, Emily Atef wrote and directed the feature film 3 DAYS IN QUIBERON. It depicts three emotional days of Romy Schneider where she gave her last German interview to 'Stern' magazine. 3 DAYS IN QUIBERON had its world premiere in the competition section of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival and competed for the Golden Bear and the film won 7 Lolas at the German Film Academy Prize 2018, including Best Film and Best Director.

2022 - MORE THAN EVER, Feature
2018 - 3 DAYS IN QUIBERON, Feature
2012 - TÖTE MICH, Feature
2008 - DAS FREMDE IN MIR, Feature
2004 - MOLLY'S WAY, Feature
2004 - ASYL, Feature

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Emily Atef

Written by: Emily Atef, Lars Hubrich

Produced by: Xénia Maingot

Cinematography: Yves Cape

Editing: Sandie Bompar, Hansjörg Weißbrich

Production Design: Silke Fischer

Costume Design: Dorothée Guiraud

Make-Up & Hair: Nathalie Tabareau-Vieuille

Original Score: Jon Balke

Sound: Nicolas Cantin, Capucine Courau

Visual Effects: Frédéric Geffroy

Casting: Sarah Teper

Cast: Vicky Krieps (Hélène), Gaspard Ulliel (Matthieu), Bjørn Floberg (Mister (Bent))

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2022