Aviva is thirteen, awkward and sensitive. Her mother Joyce is warm and loving, as is her father, Steve, a regular guy who does have a fierce temper from time to time. The film revolves around her family, friends and neighbors.
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Stephen Adly Guirgis
A woman breaks up with her boyfriend, he thinks it's because he's fat. A man is unable to tell her next door neighbor he finds her sexually attractive. An old couple wants to split up, but they don't want to get a divorce. A therapist masturbates to teen magazines. An 11 year old kid is insecure about the fact that he hasn't cum yet. Office workers try to recall the face of a coworker who recently died. A woman is sure she has everything she could ever want. The lives of these individuals intertwine as they go about their lives in their own unique ways, engaging in acts society as a whole might find disturbing in a desperate search for human connection. Written by
A crewmember's head is reflected in the window of the car when Bill is sitting in it after buying a magazine. See more »
You think I don't appreciate art? You think I don't understand fashion? You think I'm not hip? You think I'm pathetic? A nerd? A lard-ass fat-so? You think I'm shit? Well, you're wrong, 'cause i'm champagne, and you're shit. Until the day you die, you, not me, will always be shit.
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Happiness is a gruesome and uncomfortable drama about sexual dysfunction, focusing mainly on three characters: a 30-something woman who lives with her parents and attracts romantic disaster; a schlubby office drone who can't speak to his sexy neighbor so he masturbates while making obscene phone calls; and a seemingly normal therapist who lusts after his son's pre-pubescent friends. Forget the "dark comedy" label - I found almost nothing even remotely funny in the movie and in fact the overall effect was completely depressing. Happiness is an interesting movie but it wasn't funny or entertaining in the traditional sense of the word and it's nothing I'd ever want to see again.
At times, the film felt like a hollow exercise in wallowing in the misery of the characters; I imagined the main protagonists as ants and the writer/director sitting there with a magnifying glass, making them burn. Their humiliations are sometimes played for laughs in ways that didn't always work. Jon Lubitz's bitter opening monologue after he's dumped - hilariously awkward. Faux happy music playing when another character is on his way to raping a pre-teen? Err, no. The material is too serious to treat in such a cavalier way. Really, Happiness reminded me of The Ice Storm, except that movie addressed similar themes in an intelligent way with real characters and asked us to take the situation seriously. The Ice Storm also offered a glimmer of redemption, which struck me as far truer to life than the empty nihilism on display here.
Happiness wants to rub our nose in the sordid details - was there any reason to show two separate scenes of dripping cum? - but doesn't really have much to say. The film is very well-acted and it's certainly interesting so it's worth watching. I just think a movie this deliberately offputting needs to have a stronger message than "We're all an F'ing mess."
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