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Happiness (1998)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  16 October 1998 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 49,368 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 494 user | 142 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

The lives of many individuals connected by the desire for happiness, often from sources usually considered dark or evil.

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Title: Happiness (1998)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 13 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Justin Elvin ...
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Lila Glantzman-Leib ...
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Psychiatrist
Rufus Read ...
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Lenny Jordan
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Detective Berman
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Nancy
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Storyline

When a young woman rejects her current overweight suitor in a restaurant, he unexpectedly places a curse on her. The film then moves on to her sisters. One is a happily married woman with a psychiatrist husband and three kids. Unfortunately the husband develops an unnatural fascination for his 11 year old son's male classmates, fantasizes about mass killing in a park, and masturbates to teen magazines. One of his patients has an unrequited fascination for the third sister. Meanwhile the apparently stable 40 year marriage of the sister's parents suddenly unravels when he decides he has had enough and wants to live a hermit's life in Florida. Obviously, the whole movie is slightly warped in its viewpoint and certainly presents abnormal relationships among all of its parties. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

16 October 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Todd Solondz's Untitled  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£83,998 (UK) (16 April 1999)

Gross:

£365,332 (UK) (7 May 1999)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Todd Solondz:  as the doorman in Allen, Helen, and Kristina's building. See more »

Goofs

The number on top of Vlad's taxi is 5C19, while the license plate number is 8H69. On an actual New York City taxi, these numbers would match. See more »

Quotes

Helen Jordan: I want you to fuck me.
Allen: I don't think I can do that.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Happiness
Performed by Michael Stipe with Rain Phoenix
Written by Eytan Mirsky
Published by Mirsky Mouse Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An oft-misunderstood film about quiet desperation
18 August 2001 | by (Woodland Hills, CA) – See all my reviews

I wasn't going to write a comment for this one, but after reading all the nasty things said about it, and considering that _Happiness_ was the basis for one of my final undergraduate philosophy papers, I feel a duty to defend it.

First of all, what you've heard is true: this movie is very graphic and almost impossible to sit through without covering your eyes at least once. However, it is worth noting that the most uncomfortable scenes are uncomfortable precisely because of an empathy that the audience establishes with the characters; it is that precisely that empathy which often pulls the audience in a direction opposite from social mores that makes us squirm. I don't know how many of the other critics here are schooled in film theory, but that kind of powerful emotional effect is typically considered a GOOD THING in films. So, really, what most people object to about this film is the content, regardless of what they want other to believe.

That said, this really is a wonderful film precisely because of the level of human understanding, empathy, and reality it encompasses. It portrays human nature from the inside out, where it is least dignified and most pathetic. What we see are a number of people desperately scrabbling around for fulfillment, because they have all to some degree achieved the fulfillment of their desires and found it hollow. Since they don't realize this fact themselves (most people don't), they look for that fulfillment they feel entitled to by using other people. It is this fundamental destructiveness of human desire (written about masterfully by Zizek) which causes the "evils" in this film.

I put "evils" in quotes because, as Solondz's film masterfully demonstrates, there is no evil to be found in this film; there is only humanity and suffering. This absence of moral judgment, though disquieting, is what allows the spectacular sense of empathy and full moral complexity of this film.

Thus, the moral of the film is that the surest way of destroying happiness is to seek it. And that, I feel, is a message that not only makes this a great film but also an artwork of tremendous social value.


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