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What Happened Was... (1994)

This darkly humorous film explores the personal psychic landscape of two lonely New Yorkers. Jackie and Michael are coworkers at a large law firm, who decide to meet at Jackie's for dinner ... See full summary »



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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Jackie Marsh


This darkly humorous film explores the personal psychic landscape of two lonely New Yorkers. Jackie and Michael are coworkers at a large law firm, who decide to meet at Jackie's for dinner one night. As this 'first date' plays out, the audience is guided through a mental minefield of disappointment, desolation, and desperation. Their conversation, with its awkward 'small talk', slowly reveals their unhappy lives.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

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Release Date:

9 September 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Afto pou egine...  »

Box Office


$120,000 (estimated)


$327,482 (USA)

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Did You Know?


Said to be one of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's favorite films. See more »


References The Addams Family (1964) See more »


Voices Carry
Written by Michael Hausman, Joseph Pesce and Aimee Mann
Performed by 'Til Tuesday
Published by Intersong, USA
(Warner-Chappell Music)
Courtesy Epic Records
by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

You have to be open and honest with your emotions for a relationship to work
24 October 2004 | by (Brooklyn NY USA) – See all my reviews

***SPOILERS*** " What Happened Was" is a story about hurt and loneliness in the big city and how it effects two people Michael & Jackie Tom Noonan & Karen Sillas, who are co-workers at a big NYC law firm.

Michael is a paralegal and Jackie is an executive assistant as they both spend what at first seems to be a quite evening dinner at Jackie's apartment that leads to an emotional explosion which exposes the mask that they've been wearing at their job all these years. Jackie really likes Michael very much and finds in him the reason for her to get up every morning and go to work. Single like Michael she as well as him want to have a relationship to put a wedge between the loneliness that they both feel but living as they do in a major modern metropolis in a way forces them not to be themselves.

Michael is far more deluded then Jackie, who's more down to earth and honest about herself, in him thinking that he's a big time social activist who's writing a book, that he tells Jackie took him fifteen years to write, about the law profession and how it hurts those that it deals with. Michael in fact is really a very insecure young man afraid of facing life and thus losing himself in a fantasy world that he created for himself inside his living room watching TV shows mostly on the Discovery Channel. It comes as a great shock to Michael's ego when Jackie shows him a children book that she wrote that was published unlike his imaginary work on social injustice.

Throughout the entire film Jackie does what she can to loosen Michael up, with almost an entire bottle of wine, and in the end he does seem to come out of his shell and really starts to get it on with Jackie. Still his insecurity keeps him from really being responsive to her feelings about him and it's that reaction that leaves Jackie in tears as she feels she made a fool of herself trying to get Michael to fall in love with her like she's with him.

Michael is finally brought down to earth when he realizes how he hurt Jackie with his overwhelming sense of self-importance. Michael's clumsy attempt to make things right after he tried to leave her just as Jackie thought he would stay over night left her with a sense of outraged. It's then that she tells Michael just what she thought of him, this after how she felt all this time about him, and how he was the only person to make her happy in the office that they both worked at. That revelation by Jackie hit Michael so hard that for once he opens up to her and is honest about himself, not at first realizing her feelings that she had for him, and tries to make amends for what he, unconsciously, put her through that evening.

Heart-felt and moving film about how people have trouble connecting with each other and how two people who worked and were friends for years at the job together are like fish out of water and strangers when they meet and try to start up a serious relationship out of the workplace.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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