Happiness Academy Screen 4 articles

Happiness Academy

2016

Happiness Academy Poster
  • The grade overstates my actual enjoyment of the film, but this is one of those experiments that caught naive lil' me offguard, and so I feel I must give it credit for that. What appeared to be a rather wan story about a middle-aged woman overcoming her skpeticism and finding a new beginning at a bizarre French cult retreat turned out to be... well, just that. But (surprise!) it's a fiction / documentary hybrid.

  • There's nothing new or particularly appealing about yet another fabricated storyline about women out to find romantic love and failing miserably because they seem to have too much baggage. A better alternative would have been for the film to blend its calculated narrative into the documentary realism more smoothly to the point where we weren't quite sure who was acting and who was simply emoting without giving credence to a recognizable plot.

  • Fake profundity is the arguably point and from this too-light satire emerges something sincere: the fictitious love triangle bit proves sneakily affecting, much more so than what look to be real-life pronouncements/re-declarations of love between Raelian couples, perhaps prompted (or inspired) by a workshop—proving if nothing else the power of narrative. Happiness University catches you off guard, proving that small joys are to be found in the strangest of places—or films.

  • The directors coyly avoid answering the questions they stir up: Who are these people? What’s up with E. T.? You have to do some online sleuthing to learn that the setting is a retreat for the Raëlian Movement, an actual group that believes aliens created humans. The New Directors website claims that the movie mixes fiction with documentary. (A few actors play roles.) Yet shooting in real locations with nonperformers doesn’t make this nonfiction, although here it does make for a glib amusement.

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