Happy End (2017) Poster

(2017)

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Beautiful, funny, and sharp about family and refugees.
jdesando8 February 2018
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

If you'd like to feel good about your family, then see Happy End, written and directed by an Austrian, Michael Haneke, with a dollop of Euro horror that seems to combine elements of Roman Polanski and Mike Nichols. This family flirts with self-destruction across the generations.

Patriarch Georges Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is celebrating his 85th birthday with enough of his wit left to remember he dispatched his ailing wife to the next life out of concern for her pain. Similarly his granddaughter, 13 year old Eve (Fantine Harduin), attempted to poison a classmate and recently to commit suicide. Across the generations, this is not a happy family. However, a happy end they may have if even-keeled, task-oriented Georges' daughter, Anne (Isabelle Huppert), prevails. Not likely.

For all their wealth, each member, even comely and charming daughter Anne, is unhappy, she with a grown son, Pierre (Franz Rogowski), who is not socially or mentally well balanced. He can't even sing Karaoke without endangering his life. That Karaoke scene is a keeper in modern cinema.

Yet the family does ritual dining and socializing, right down to inviting friends and relatives to an intimate concert that is not euphonious to say the least. Just another off-balance moment. All the pretty dining and servants can't mask the undercurrent of familial larceny.

Haneke's use of modern technology from the live-streaming video during the opening bathroom scene to the exposure of a love affair through instant messaging casts an unflattering, harsh light on whatever the family may want to hide but can't. Even a work accident is seen through a security camera. As in Haneke's Cache, surveillance is revealing but never a solution.

Anne's engagement party could have been the democratizing of this family, but rather becomes a debacle when Pierre brings unannounced African immigrants with the beginnings of a diatribe against immigration policies. The result is mutilation, not reconciliation.

Happy End will not have a happy end for audiences unwilling to do some heavy thinking about the various puzzle pieces from each episode that eventually create a mosaic of modern bourgeois dysfunction. As such, the film may be difficult and tedious for general audiences.

Privilege has inured the principals to the plight of the servants in their household (the dog-bite sequence is particularly unnerving) and the unwanted immigrants at their wedding. This scurrilous neglect, passed down to generations, reflects not just a French problem (they are in Calais, after all, the port for refugee chaos) when the audience may consider the growing class disparities around the world and callous care about the poor and homeless.

Happy End, in the end, is about cankerous abandon in privilege, whose end may be no less than murder and suicide. Whatever, it's not pretty but a rewarding artistic experience.
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10/10
Young orphan feels remote from her troubled family.
maurice yacowar25 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Hands down, Happy End wins the Most Ironic Title of the year award. (Runner-up: "President Trump.") From Amour Haneke continues Trintignant's role as the octogenarian who lovingly cared for his ailing wife and helped her out - with Huppert as their callous businesswoman daughter. But it's from Cache that Haneke mainly draws, extending his anatomy of the privileged white business class cut off from emotional engagement, experiencing the world and relating primarily through media, and their insensitivity to the burgeoning immigrant underclass. The Callais setting is key. It's the bridge between France and England, both in starting the Chunnel and remarking England's last foothold in France. It's also the entry point for African immigrants hoping to continue on to England. Or to the French bourgeoisie? The dysfunctional Laurents represent the privileged society which the desperate immigrants aspire to join. The family's concerns pale beside what we see of the their Moroccan servants ("our slave" Pierre publically calls cook Jamila), the street lads Georges assumes he can hire to kill him, the older immigrants Pierre exploits to embarrass his mother at her posh engagement dinner, the construction worker killed in an accident, his whose family the Laurents further affront. In addition to the immigrants, the family is viewed from the perspective of Eve, Thomas's 12-year-old daughter who comes to live with the Laurents after her mother's mysterious poisoning and death. For this Eve there is no Eden, only a family of anger and mutual abuse. The film's central theme is the family's detachment from each other. The film opens and closes with Eve's cellphone films. This characterizes her as distanced, relating to her family indirectly, through media. The pre-title sequence records her mother's nightly ablution rite before she turns the lights off, an augur of her suicide. Then a young boy cavorts in silly cheek, showing Eve as cool and detached from her friends as she is from her mother. The last shot is of her Aunt Anne and father Thomas rushing to save George from contentedly drowning in the sea. The thin column of cellphone film is a mediated experience. So, too, are the computer screen messages between Thomas and his mistress Claire. Several key scenes are kept in long shot, Pierre's provoking of the accident victim's son. That device keeps us in the characters' detachment from the experience. Bent upon suicide, the grandfather wheels down the city street in the road, between the roaring traffic and the parked cars. In one scene the foreground is dominated by a violently barking dog. In the background we barely see the key content of the scene: Georges brought home from the hospital, in his new wheelchair. The composition leaves us uncertain. Is the dog attacking the "stranger" or straining to greet his master? And whose dog is it? We never see a family member with the dog, and Annes ordering servant Rachid to control the dog could suggest the dog is their pet, not hers. But then he bites their little daughter at play. The dog may well be the Laurents' pet, as neglected and antagonistic as the family members themselves. We're not told which. Just as the narrative omits significant details, like the cause of Eve's mother's death, the details of the Laurents' financial predicament, how the new father Thomas fell into another affair, etc. Perhaps the film's most touching scene is the grandfather's with Eve. To coax her into explaining her suicide attempt he confesses that he put his beloved wife out of her suffering. But, as her cellphone filing suggests, the girl is too dissociated from her own emotions and too remote from others to be as open and intimate as he is. Whether in lethargy, resignation or obedience, she wheels him toward the water and eaves him there. Even his possible death does not shake her detachment. Earlier Georges told her how disturbing he found the spectacle of a predatory bird tearing apart a smaller one, both then wiped away by a car. His point is how reality is even more jolting than its mediated images are. But when she watches his suicide she again resists the direct emotional encounter - and films it. The forgetful old man eager to die is the film's emotional and moral center. His family is relentlessly abrasvive. His son Thomas left his first wife and seems poised to leave his second for Claire, his unseen email mistress. He struggles to be a father for Eve. Grandson Pierre is an incompetent misfit who blames his mother for his own failure. Nor is there much passion and fulfilment in Anne's life. Her fiancé is the unappealing English lawyer who has been negotiating a large loan to rescue her company. This seems the traditional expedience rather than passion. Confirming this rotting and wasteful society, the dialogue abounds with references to urinating. Eve records her mother's pissing and flush. The email love letters relish the memory of golden showers, the mutual debasement may confirm Eve's sense that her father doesn't love this Claire, didn't love either wife and probably cannot love her either. Perhaps the film's central metaphor is the accident on their construction site. A worker is killed when he goes into a stored portable toilet to urinate and the ground crumbles under him. When a construction site provides such a bathetic destruction the company, the family, the society, seem of very unstable grounding,. Perhaps "Happy End" isn't so ironic after all. If Georges does manage to drown before his son and daughter save him, in this family he could ask for nothing better. In any case, Eve remains the continuing victim of a broken adult world she can neither understand nor enter with confidence or commitment.
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9/10
another perspective of the end
dromasca7 February 2018
If anybody thought after seeing 'Amour' and especially its ending that Michael Haneke turned to be a little bit softer towards its characters and show them some mercy, than his or her expectations will be definitely be contradicted by his most recent film 'Happy End', which to many extends deals with the same theme - the end of the road that expects us all, death and how to cope with it.

The high bourgeoisie class had already had its prime time in cinema. Luis Buñuel is the first great director who comes to my mind, with his sharp and cynical visions in movies like 'The Exterminating Angel' and 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie' . Their universe receives a deep and detailed description in this film, we are in the 21st century but the change seems to be more in technology rather than in morals, inner relations, or the way the upper classes relate to the world around - servants in the house, partners and employees in business, or the immigrants of different colors of skin who also populate the Europe of our times. The name of the film, 'Happy End' may as well refer to the sunset of this social class or to the mercy killings of the old and suffering.

We know from his previous films that Michael Haneke is not concerned about breaking taboos. This film attacks several as well. Innocence of child is one of them, the young age being seen not that much as an ideal age, but rather as the period when seeds of evil are being sown. We have seen something similar in 'The White Ribbon'. Respectability of the old age is another, and the character and interpretation of Jean-Louis Trintignant is the proof. There is decency in his attitude, but it derives from a very different place than the usual convention. At some point it seems that the old Monsieur Laurent tells a story that happened to the character also played by Trintignant in 'Amour'. Themes are recurring, but what the attitude of the script writer and director is as non-conventional as ever. One new perspective in this film is the exposure to the Internet and to social networking. These play an important role in the story, part of the characters share their feelings and send their hidden messages in the apparent darkness of the digital networking. The sharp critic of the director towards the surrogates of human communication is evident, but he also borrows brilliantly the format of the smartphones screens and uses them to open and close his film. 'Happy End' is (almost) another masterpiece by Michael Haneke.
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6/10
Haneke's bleak view on the world
Ruben Mooijman6 November 2017
If the screenplay of 'Happy End' is an indication of Michael Haneke's view on the world, it is a very bleak one. There is no happy end to this film; in fact there is very little happiness whatsoever.

Haneke's portrayal of a French bourgeois family is extremely dark. The grandfather wants to kill himself, the son is exchanging kinky chat sessions with someone who is not his wife, the grandson is a spoiled brat with a low self-esteem, and the twelve year old granddaughter is an angel-faced scoundrel. Only Anne, the daughter who runs the family business, is relatively normal.

The film opens with homemade smartphone video images, followed by images from a surveillance camera. It's Haneke's way of keeping distance from his characters: he is merely the observer. This is also emphasized by several scenes in which the camera registers the events from a distance. It's all typical Haneke, as well as the elongated scenes in which not much happens. Haneke doesn't make it easy for the audience: in the first half of the film, the scenes don't really seem to be related, only after a while things become more clear.

In some films by Haneke, these style elements work well and add value to the story. But in 'Happy End', it feels like they have become Haneke trademarks just for the sake of it. They're not drawing the viewer into the film but instead creating a barrier, preventing a full appreciation of it.

Still, if you're ready to get over some cinematographic hurdles, this can be a very rewarding film. Perhaps some elements are a bit too much, but at least it doesn't leave you indifferent.
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7/10
Not Haneke's best but still manages to engage with cultural relevance and authenticity
Will Jeffery1 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a fan of Michael Haneke, so I was looking forward to his latest film. From his previous films and now this one, he is clearly a filmmaker interested in surveillance; the film opens and closes with shots from a phone screen surveying 'crime' in one way or another. A filmmaker also concerned with social issues, this film is about a disjointed family in crisis with a backdrop of the European refugee crisis. Join that with the modern way to keep everyone 'connected' with technology (social media or smartphones) you can perhaps read what Haneke is trying to say about European Identity. There are a lot of scenes that drag and the narrative is unfortunately disconnected forcing the audience to join dots so 'Happy End' had the potential to be a lot more.
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7/10
"I am stuck"
Petro Shamborovskyy29 January 2018
Beautiful, tender as flower and " light" in terms of Haneke's style - I expected it to be hard & taught.

Movie appeared to be the life story of few generations that are stuck in life. Somebody succeeds to leave successfully, somebody - not. Those who stuck do not suffer - they just lead the regular life - betray wife, indulge in sexual experiments, fight with spoiled kids, try to help refugees, solve probs at work & at home - regular lifetime routine.

In some moments boring (by the way, as our everyday life) and in some extremely beautiful as the sea, movie is calm, tranquil and spectacular.

We are all stuck and it's up to us to decide which direction to go - to go in or to go out.

I would like to write about last episodes of the movie: touching, deep, white, bright sea and the seaside are reminding me Marcelle Proust and Balbec times of his novel...

One can watch and be bored from the watching- but, probably, this is exactly the effect Haneke is aiming to achieve.
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6/10
in their own bleak world
David Ferguson18 January 2018
Greetings again from the darkness. Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has blessed us with, what I consider, at least five excellent movies (AMOUR, THE WHITE RIBBON, CACHE, FUNNY GAMES, THE PIANO TEACHER), and though it's been 5 years since his last, there is always a welcome anticipation for his next project. Unfortunately, this latest is esoteric and disjointed even beyond his usual style. In fact, at face value, it just seems only to be an accusation lobbed at the wealthy, stating that their privilege and cluelessness brings nothing but misery and difficulty to themselves and the rest of society.

We open on an unknown kid's secretive cell phone video filming of her mother getting ready for bed, followed by the mistreatment of a pet hamster as a lab rat, and finally video of her mother passed out on the sofa - just prior to an ambulance being called. Our attention is then turned to a family estate in Calais, which is inhabited by the octogenarian patriarch Georges (Jean-Louis Trintigant), his doctor son Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert), Anne's malcontent son Pierre (Franz Rogowski), Thomas' wife and infant son, and the Moroccan couple who are household servants. While her mother is being treated for an overdose, 13 year old Eve (Fantine Harduin), moves in to the estate (Thomas is her re-married father). It's here that we learn the opening scenes were Eve's video work ... clearly establishing her as a damaged soul.

Initially, it seems as though we will see the family through Eve's eye, but what follows instead is the peeling back of family layers exposing the darkness and menace that haunts each of these characters. Georges appears to be intent on finding a way out of the life that has imprisoned his body and is now slowly taking his mind through dementia. Thomas is carrying on an illicit affair through raunchy email exchanges. Anne is trying to protect the family construction business from the incompetence of her son Pierre, while also looking for love with solicitor Toby Jones. At times, we are empathetic towards Eve's situation, but as soon as we let down our guard, her true colors emerge. The film is certainly at its best when Ms. Harduin's Eve is front and center. Her scene with her grandfather Georges uncovers their respective motivators, and is chilling and easily the film's finest moment.

The film was a Cannes Palme d'Or nominee, but we sense that was in respect to Mr. Haneke's legacy, and not for this particular film. The disjointed pieces lack the necessary mortar, or even a linking thread necessary for a cohesive tale. What constitutes a happy end ... or is one even possible? Perhaps that's the theme, but the film leaves us with a feeling of incompleteness - or perhaps Haneke just gave up trying to find such an ending, and decided commentary on the "bourgeois bubble" was sufficient.
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4/10
Haneke only hitting some right notes here
Warning: Spoilers
"Happy End" is a French-Austrian co-production released this year (2017) and these 105 minutes are Austria's current submission to the Oscars. If you read the name Haneke, then you will certainly know that the title is not meant to be seriously but sarcastically. The cast is predominantly French and French is also the main language here, but you will also find actors from several other European countries. It is a pretty absurd and rather awkward tale at times as basically everybody is really just for himself, especially the grown-ups and they effortlessly transfer their rotten characters to the next generation with their behavior towards them. There is for example the scene where the dad talks about the old man's suicide attempt in front of the daughter, lets her hear everything and then tries to comfort her. Or of course all interactions between Huppert and Rogowski. A lot more is broken in this film than just that one wall. Speaking of Haneke and his last Austrian Oscar submission, there are moments when you could think that, especially with everything revolving Trintignant's character, this film here is a sequel. But there are moments when it also doesn't seem that way, for example Huppert's character's name.

Anyway, this film here has nothing on Amour, which is a genuine masterpiece in my opinion and it's also way weaker than "The White Ribbon" in my opinion. It's an okay family drama overall and a decent character study about everybody involved and Haneke once again proves how strong he is as the few moments when he goes a bit over the top still don't keep this film from being very authentic. The acting is good too all around. Trintignant shines once again, but I may be biased as I like him a lot and think he should have won the Oscar for Amour already. Another pretty positive surprise is Fantine Harduin and she was really good here, could have a bright career ahead if she decides to take the actress path. Back to Haneke, this is maybe one of his most provocative works. When he kills the hamster early on, most audience members feel really bad for the animal, but almost nobody feels bad for the woman in the background basically suffering the same tragic fate. The reason in my opinion is that we know the woman did not die really, but the animal did and I just cannot approve of that. I think Haneke is a really great filmmaker, but this recurring theme from is films is just wrong. Another provocative scene is when the son brings these Black men to the party as many in the audience maybe thought oh these are the ones the old man asked earlier to kill him right? Especially when the old man quickly decides to leave the occasion. But I think it is not. But it adds salt to the wound that to Whites Blacks do look the same. At least I interpreted this scene like that. So yes, overall it wasn't a bad watch, even if it was inferior to Haneke's 2 most recent other works, clearly inferior in fact. But as this one offers a lot to discuss too (as always with Haneke thanks to the depth in his films and characters), I'd give it a ***/*****, but I have to remove one star because of the hamster scene at the very start. The "no animals were harmed" part during the closing credits should also apply to Haneke. I mean it's not like the son was really beaten up that one scene (i.e. the actor), but why not do that too if he lets his animals even do method acting in terms of life and death and I am not saying any actors should really get killed (absolutely not!), but the animal violence/killing part, even if it is for the art of cinema, is just wrong and ultimately has me giving this film a thumbs-down. Don't watch.
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3/10
Long takes alone a profound film do not make
mariobadula19 March 2018
Like others, the main reason I went to see this film was Michael Haneke. Although I always thought that he lacks humor and takes himself too seriously, he did make some outstanding and memorable films. Unfortunately, this one feels stale, redundant, and out of step with the times. The subject matter, the bourgeoisie entrapped in their self-serving bubble as a theme, has been shown so many times, and in much more poignant ways, including by Haneke himself. This film doesn't add anything new or noteworthy, neither with the story, nor with the style.

The way social media and phone messages are shown also feels embarrassingly dated, like a grandfather explaining this "new" phenomenon. "Cache" was made over a decade ago, and technology and the discourses of its impacts have moved on with furious speed; apparently, Haneke has not. Even the metaphor of using Calais and the migrant 'jungle' as point here misses its mark. It tries to be smart about it, but, once again, it just feels old in its approach.

Interestingly enough, another western European film, the Swedish "The Square," dealt with some similar themes and issues in the same year, but was more successful with its narrative framework and style. "Happy End" just felt boring, not necessarily because of the long takes alone, but because of its uninspired re-threading of familiar ground. Because of that, those long takes eventually really did become boring. Perhaps Haneke will resurface with some interesting new work, or perhaps it is really time for him to retire. In any case, I hope the comparisons to Bunuel will cease. Bunuel was a pioneer with his films; this is a film by an old man, who doesn't seem to have much new to say any more.
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10/10
A Happy End for some.......
kieronboote-134-96947219 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen some wonderful films recently such as "Three Billboards....", "The Shape of Water" etc that I really enjoyed. Then you see a film by a master like Haneke and suddenly you are transported to a whole new level of film making. This is a film that intellectually and visually provides a commentary on the state of the world at the moment. Haneke is a sort of Noam Chomsky for the eyes but as the supreme moral chronicler his world view has a satisfyingly more muscular and biting edge to it. Indeed Haneke operates on an intellectual and moral level that very few filmmakers have ever approached. Only a handful of films such as Godard's "Weekend" ( although Godard can never escape a blatant didacticism, or a frequent obsession with his leading ladies), Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief His Wife and Her Lover" and Bunuel's "the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" provide such a pleasure for the senses and the brain as Haneke's work does..

The film launches you into the various machinations of a construction company owning upper middle class family. Sexualised internet messages from people having affairs, phone camera's voyeuristically recording someone's mother as she passes from intimate daily routines through to the anonymous and almost impersonalised death throes of the character. These moments are designed to actively engage your brain right from the outset as you start to try and construct the narrative gaps. However they also serve, mirroring Haneke's 1992 film "Benny's Video", to show the distancing effect of technology on real human interaction and the almost sociopathic impact that this technology has on people's minds.

The film places us at the centre of a successful, cultured and beautiful family headed by a grandfather sinking towards dementia, brilliantly played by Jean Louis Trintignant who at 87 may have delivered here his greatest performance since the "Conformist". As we move behind this facade we see a son, played by Mathieu Kassovitz , who is a care giving doctor in his daily life but someone who does not know how to love or give genuine care to his own family, a man who is at his most alive typing out his sexual fantasies on facebook messenger. There is an austere daughter, played by the greatest screen actress of her generation Isabelle Huppert, who is the cold steel holding the family construction business together. There is the troubled grandson, Huppert's son, played by Franz Rogowski, physically imperfect and hence doomed to failure. Then there is the sweet looking granddaughter, brilliantly played Fantine Harduin, who delivers an astonishing performance for a 12 year old, who has been so tainted by this dysfunctional family and by the her constant reliance upon a version of life that is one step removed from reality by her phone video camera that she can barely grasp the fundamental morals of reality. Yet tragically all that she wants is to be loved and to belong.

There are the house servants of North African origin and the mongrel family dog, always filmed from the outside looking in and reduced to taking it's frustration out on the lowest ranking member of the household, the cooks daughter. Perhaps representing a world where the disenfranchised have their hatred misdirected to other struggling people rather than focussing upon those who are really responsible for their difficulties.

This is a living breathing world trapped inside the problems of the current day. Where migrants are forced to leave their homes, not for economic reasons but because their family members have been burnt alive by fundamentalist Muslims, Muslim extremists funded by Trump's fossil fuel buddies the Saudi Arabians and subtly referenced by the oil rigs shown in the film. A time and place where the simple physical presence of these dark skinned people at a gleaming white wedding serves to show the profound contrast in these people's lives. A world where Brexit is serving to disrupt the relationship between England and France (hence the inclusion of the English speaking character played by Toby Jones). A world where everything is contractual and where an ordinary working man's life is worth 35,000 Euro's and the compensation for a dog bite on a North African child is the remnants of a box of chocolates.

A brilliantly crafted film where every second seems to be perfectly judged, from intimate interiors to a terrific exterior tracking shot of the suicidal family patriarch, but keeping us as distanced observers, inviting us to actually THINK not consume. A film where every interior, every wardrobe choice seems to be casually perfect. Inside this coruscating study of an upper middle class family Mr Haneke has produced a time capsule of the difficulties of living in a world where the richest 1% have as much wealth as the next 99% of people of the world and where the news media and impersonalising, isolating influence of social media drives us to misunderstand issues and to hate the rest of the 99%. A film with a happy ending for one of the characters, and one that I have to say I found highly amusing, and an ending that reinforces that the rich can literally get away with murder.
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3/10
Get Out Your Hanekes
writers_reign10 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Haneke is, of course, flavour of the month and a major player in the Academic-Pseud set. Alas, Isabelle Huppert, one of the finest actresses in captivity, has a penchant for sleaze, quirkiness, and the like which leads her toward the Hanekes of this world and ultimately means that if admirers want to see Huppert in full spate it is necessary to endure the self-regarding pretentiousness of material such as this. On the credit side Huppert will, on occasion, make a pure entertaining movie like Alexandra Leclere's Les Souers fachees, which is worth ten Hanekes. This time around Haneke gives us his idea of subtle by placing a hugely affluent but dysfunctional family in Calais so that we, the audience, can cry, 'Ah, these poor, rich bastards in the big house don't know where they're well off, if only they'd take a look at all that human flotsam just outside the grounds, living like pigs on the hope of getting to England. You could have found more subtle messaging - Yankee Go Home - on the walls of any German town in the immediate post-war years. See it for Huppert.
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5/10
The Karaoke scene to end all karaoke scenes
Shelly L.13 September 2017
Haneke braves the new world, the modern world. He braves criticism at our youth's cell phone culture and our need for an audience. Haneke braves comedic elements, making us laugh to show how ridiculous our behavior has become in this past century. Haneke steps out of his comfort zone with this film. Does he succeed? Meh.
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3/10
Happy it End-ed
ccorral41910 January 2018
Happy End. The title says it all here - I was "Happy" when it came to an "End". Director/Writer Michael Haneke ("Amour" 2012) has a following that this first time viewer of his work doesn't get. With an opening that is long and doesn't make sense, a story line that is filled with so many sub-storylines that aren't fully established or supported, camera work that lingers way too long on various subjects, and subtitles that wiz by at times, the experience just isn't worth it. Set in the Calias, France estate of patriarch George Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant "Amour"), we find him fed up with his alcoholic daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert "Elle" 2016) and her wondering son Pierre, his twice divorced son Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz ""Amelie" 2001) and Thomas' introverted daughter Eve (Fantine Harduin "Fanny's Journey" 2016) who comes to live with him after her mother is hospitialized with self poisoning. If only George can end his life-I feel your pain George, I feel your pain! Along the way, we meet family lawyer Brashaw (Toby Jones "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy" 2011), who becomes one of the family during a very odd reception. Director Haneke may have a story here, but he's unable to keep the multiple storylines clear, and often the camera work is too close to the environment thus make it unclear as to where we are in the story and the various locations. Little Fantine Harduin at least makes the viewing experience somewhat interesting. Why more viewers didn't work out of this one, I'll never understand. This film was screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival #PSIFF2018
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What a great movie!
pedrokolari10 April 2018
Forget all other reviews. Agree that Haneke is not for everybody. Not absolutely sure it is his best. As with most movies these days, one has trouble finding one's bearings during the first half hour or so. So may need to be watched more than once and it definitely should be watched twice at least.

The movie is very Haneke, very contemporary, A fresco of today's human condition by looking at the exquisitely delineated characters within an upper class French family. Hupert and Trintignant brilliant as usual, the teenager protagonist a total revelation. Technology, immigration, race and inequality traumas thrown in along with the usual dose of existential angst.

Likely to become a cult movie. Don't miss it.
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7/10
Worth watching from the beginning
Daniel Stuckey10 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The is the first time I have seen a movie from this director and though I had trouble getting into it at the beginning, it was well worth it sitting through the first part.

The movie is nothing but depressing and has no happy ending with the story of a french family of wealth and standing demonstrating how seriously screwed up you can be.

I found the cuts between scene's annoying in some places with the previous scene introducing an event ever so briefly, for it not to happen or relate to the next scene or referred to again.

In someways the movie was too long with too many scene's used to make a longer movie.

With all this said it is though well worth seeing, with the final scene a cracker!
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8/10
ironic
zicteban3 February 2018
It is all about life irony. Everything can be so shocking but true at the same time. The message behind the story might be quite dark: why to live in such a superficiel, hypocritical and unfair world? Death is all around and almost the main acting force. What I did not like is the character of the 13 years old girl, also the way her body was filmed at the beginning. The issue is not the young actress who does a great job, but the character itself, its meaning; quite disturbing. The final scene is a thoughtful and perfect evidence of how deeply sarcastic the movie may be.
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3/10
Michael Haneke should retire. The movie is crap.
Kapten Video11 February 2018
The much admired Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has never belonged to my favorites but I was still surprised to discover that I do not enjoy his latest at all. No sir! Actually, it mostly sucks.

"Happy End" is essentially a family drama zeroing in on one of Haneke's regular topic of interest - estrangement experienced by individuals in modern society - but most of the time I could only relate to the experience by feeling estranged because of his style.

As both screenwriter and director, Haneke's goal this time must have been to make the viewer not connect to, or be part of, what's happening on the screen.

It's true that I just may not "get" this particular type of auteur cinema but if making a screen story intentionally as boring as possible is something to cherish, I'd gladly prefer mainstream entertainment.

Here are examples of approaches, stylistic choices, and methods Haneke has preferred to create "Happy End":

* every little action or sitution takes place or lasts seemingly as long as possible - I've heard that this approach used to be called a "Chinese movie";

* long static takes concentrating on very little happening, starting with the very beginning where we spend minutes watching a woman moving around in the bathroom and finally sitting down to pee - accompanied by the instant messages that reveal nothing about the situation;

* long static takes concentrating on very little happening, but through video calling app such as FaceTime instead of the regular cameras;

* 20 minutes before giving any explanation or context about what's exactly happening and who are those people - not that there's much happening;

* short, laconic dialogues about trivial topics, revealing nothing about the story, characters, or their relationships;

To be fair, after the first seemingly interminable 20 minutes of boring meaninglessness, "Happy End" changes shift and becomes something resembling a regular movie. One can finally perceive a purpose to all this, a story of sorts, relationship dynamics, natural suspense.

All this disappears soon, sadly, only to emerge occasionally during the whole experience and vanish again.

Most of the interesting content appears in the short but deliciously sharp final chapter which is about the grandfather and teenage girl discovering they have a lot in common. This probably saves "Happy End" even out-sucking Nolan's last Batman, "The Dark Knight Rises", which is my personal benchmark for boring movie from a famous director.

The one thing that impressed me about the whole thing was Haneke's dark sense of humor, even if it only appears in the finale. So let's end the review in the similar style: "Happy End" is a good example of why even creative minds should retire at some point, instead of continuing to work till they die.

The critics at Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes seem to like "Happy End" quite a lot but it has only gathered 5 different movie award nominations and has won nothing. There's still some justice in the world, or something!

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about the cast or their performances. This is because although we see several famous actors such as Isabelle Huppert, Mathieu Kassovitz, and Toby Jones, their work in general fails to impress. You can't create a memorable role without a decent script, now can you?

Having said that, I quite liked Jean-Louis Trintignant as the grandfather and Fantine Harduin as the teenager mentioned above. Most of the interesting content is connected to their storyline. If only there was more of it.

At least the movie's title was appropriate. I sure was happy when the it ended.
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