Happy End Screen 62 of 19 reviews

Happy End

2017

Happy End Poster
  • In one brief, brisk film about a well-to-do Calais family almost oblivious to those less fortunate than themselves, this ingeniously reassembles and updates the various themes from Haneke’s previous films to fascinating, insightful and sometimes darkly satirical effect.

  • Happily, Happy End delivers: it’s a film whose themes put it squarely within the continuum of Haneke’s filmography, yet it also distinguishes itself from much of it in the deployment of unexpectedly approachable dark wit and thriller-ish sensibility.

  • The movie is a Haneke mega mix, and the haters are very much gonna hate. But there’s is something irresistible about the director’s hostile precision and the way in which he offers a surprise along with every lacerating cut. It’s a film about a world gradually sliding into an abyss of moral degradation, but at the same time, there are traces which make you think that Haneke secretly believes it’s a world worth saving.

  • This return to form(alism) is self-conscious, and one way to read – and quickly dismiss – Happy End is to characterise it as a greatest hits album of sorts, with all the old Haneke classics, from sociopathic teens and monstrously self-involved bourgeois parents to class warfare, racism and assisted suicide in one handy tracklist. Such a characterisation, while not inaccurate, ignores the subtle but significant shift in the material towards a lighter, though hardly benign, seriocomic tone.

  • The language of romance here is, as I’ve been told by a native speaker, antiquated, overblown, and very French. The stilted tapping on the keyboard is a comical overture for the salacious correspondence, but perhaps it’s nice to see that the neutered interface of social media network platforms don’t seem to obstruct truly libidinal expressions.

  • By any other standards, Happy End would undoubtedly be a commanding film, but given how loftily Haneke had placed the bar for himself with his preceding body of work, it comes across merely as middling fare, and elicited barely a ripple of excitement on the Croisette (not to mention going empty-handed in the prize ceremony).

  • Stylistically Haneke has reinvented himself again as a collagist, but I fear this film will be even more difficult to market than his others, since it feels so loose and indeterminate.

  • The film's various dangling plot threads may be immediately puzzling, but they ultimately form an involving, deceptively empathetic portrait of personal grief as it's experienced in a desensitized first-world society.

  • The movie plays at times like a critique of technological alienation, dispensing key plot twists via chilling iPhone videos and Facebook chat sessions. Then it morphs into a smirking bad-seed thriller, with Harduin superb as the seriously disturbed Ève, her limited repertoire of blank stares cutting to the bone... Love or loathe this glib, impossible, queasily hilarious and thoroughly terrifying movie, one thing is all but certain: You will give Michael Haneke exactly the reaction he wanted.

  • Surprisingly, considering Happy End feels like a summation for the director, it’s also his most restrained work – and his flattest... A major issue is that the characterizations don’t reach very deep and in the absence of a robust context or involving narrative, it’s actually the references to Haneke’s previous films that flesh out what is otherwise a rather perfunctory condemnation of the bourgeoisie equipped with the usual symbolic connotations.

  • Much like Atom Egoyan, Michael Haneke is in the unenviable position of having had the world catch up with and surpass his worst fears and admonishments. If the opening segment of Happy End looks a lot like Benny's Video from 25 years ago, it's certainly not a coincidence. But it does tend to make Haneke seem like a man who staked all his chips on an apocalypse that didn't come. Regrettably, the human capacity for misery is remarkably elastic.

  • The film unfolds in an episodic manner so that certain, discrete moments recall characters and incidents from Haneke’s Benny’s Video, Code Unknown,Caché, The White Ribbon, and Amour—yet here he replaces those films’ shock tactics with mild, almost blasé frustration. The title indicates an ironic reckoning with the end, and one might expect a major comeuppance for this cast of jerks. Nothing doing. The ultimate shrug with which Happy End wraps up might be its greatest strength.

  • Though formally demanding—we are tasked with following various characters who come and go, without much context—Happy End feels thematically easy for those familiar with Haneke’s work. The film unfolds like a curation of his favourite ideas from movies past, a self-referential object predictably filtered through the theme of bourgeois malaise.

  • Haneke, a two-time Palme d’Or winner who left Cannes empty-handed for the first time since 2003’s Time of the Wolf, is working in a slightly more sardonic register here but Happy End is otherwise business as usual—in fact, it’s a self-conscious reprise of Haneke’s greatest hits, training its microscope on an extended bourgeois family in Calais, France, where a refugee crisis is unfolding under their oblivious noses.

  • The unsurprisingly excellent Isabelle Huppert helps lighten Michael Haneke’s “Happy End,” yet another of his movies about the rot and wretchedness of the bourgeoisie. Ms. Huppert plays the powerhouse figure... a dominatrix role she imbues with moments of delectable offbeat comedy. Mr. Haneke’s greatness as a filmmaker is never in question during this immaculately directed work, but his emphasis again on surveillance culture, class pathology and anomie feels more ritualistic than inspired.

  • Despite its title, Happy End is willfully irresolute, its snaking threads suggesting festering grief, latent desire and buried contempt, only for them to hit dead ends or else get dropped entirely.

  • It should go without saying at this point that the title of Austrian miserablist Michael Haneke’s new film is a cruel joke–, and an unsurprising one at that. What’s more unfortunate than the forced irony, however, is that just as the title seems to have been spit out by an art-cinema name generator, so does the movie itself play as something of a parody of Haneke’s past accomplishments.

  • The material feels ripe for Haneke... But in spreading his focus around these different figures, he loses the slow-burning energy needed to convey his outrage, as well as the hint of perverse empathy that, no matter what his critics say, always lies beneath his work. Haneke’s not unfeeling; he usually just asks audiences to meet him halfway. But with the cold, messy, and fundamentally irritating Happy End, I can’t help but feel he’s abandoned us entirely.

  • It left me wondering what, exactly, Haneke was trying to tell me that he hasn’t already told me in every other film of his that I’ve disliked, which is nearly all of them.

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