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Isabelle Huppert’s Demented Black Comedy

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 9:21 pm    Post subject: Isabelle Huppert’s Demented Black Comedy Reply with quote

‘Happy End’: Isabelle Huppert’s Demented Black Comedy Is the Feel-Bad Masterpiece of the Year
Legendary filmmaker Michael Haneke and Isabelle Huppert re-team for one of the year's best, already a frontrunner for the Palm d’Or at Cannes.
Richard Porton


As I was exiting the press screening of Happy End, which premiered today in competition at Cannes, a colleague termed the film a compilation of Michael Haneke’s “greatest hits.” True to form, this new film by the celebrated Austrian director (who won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, on two previous occasions) is the feel-bad art-house movie of the year. As with, say, Todd Solondz’s Happiness or Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, a faux-cheerful title provides a massive clue that everything will not be OK and the very idea of happiness is more or less a con game. Revolving around, as is typical for Haneke, the antics of the complacent European bourgeoisie, Happy End is populated with characters succumbing to drug overdoses, suicide attempts—or merely the temptation to plunge into loveless marriages that are more like business arrangements.

These sordid events, among others, take place in Calais, the port city in northern France that housed an informal refugee camp, known colloquially as “The Jungle,” from 2015 to 2016. The contrast between impoverished refugees and the fabulously wealthy family who are at the center of Haneke’s film, which could be categorized as either black comedy or demented melodrama, is crucial to Happy End’s not-so-subtle agenda.

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