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Robert Hansen is a cop in Copenhagen who makes a mistake, is remanded for therapy, then assigned to a small town in South Jutland, where cows and problems disappear into the mud. He quickly learns that the town bully, Jørgen, beats his wife, an outsider like Robert. He tries to get her to swear out a complaint against Jørgen; she flirts with Robert. When someone dies and Robert knows the prime suspect is innocent, he halts vigilante justice and things get complicated. He wants to protect himself and the daughter of Jørgen, and he wants to reconnect with his own daughter back home. Is rural justice his ticket back to Copenhagen? Is there any chance at happiness? Written by
Its as if David Lynch has directed a unique, psychological thriller/western that oddly develops on the soggy plains of Copenhagen. "Terribly Happy" is a relentless and expressionless film noir, and may be the best pseudo-western that Denmark has ever sent our way. The plot nudges us to laugh at things that aren't funny, except they are, because we're not that hapless schmuck doing precisely the thing he shouldn't do in the exactly the wrong town.
The setting is a remote Danish burg that's as bleak and crummy as most of its residents. Robert (Jakob Cedergren) is a Copenhagen police officer who transfers to a small provincial town to fill the position of the mysteriously vacated Marshall. He wants to be the good guy, but the citizens have their own ways of dispensing justice, and besides, there's a skeleton in Robert's closet - he's been in trouble, and his new assignment is a kind of banishment. The townspeople are a gallery of surly grotesques living in fear of the town bully, Jørgen (Kim Bodnia), who habitually beats his wife, Ingelise (Lene Maria Christensen).
She shows Robert her bruises and scars, and comes on to him. She wants his help and then doesn't want it - she's one confused woman. We don't know who's telling the truth, and neither does Robert, who is advised to look the other way. Of course, he doesn't. Opportunities for compromise abound. Robert's big city temperament makes it impossible for him to fit in, or what to make of the bizarre behavior displayed by the town's people.
As the storyline unfolds, it grows increasingly desperate and darkly comedic. The unease is undisguised, and you, like Robert, will fight it at first, but eventually be forced to accept it and just give in. Director Genz is perfectly paired with cinematographer Jørgen Johansson who captures the essence of trepidation and misery. To call this a dark comedy may be misleading because you won't be laughing out loud, but the humor keeps an unnerving undercurrent. An offbeat modern noir, and an unusually compelling portrait of a town that has its own sense of justice.
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