Those who like Austrian director Michael Haneke’s films will be pleased to see this new film, Happy end. But not everyone will. Haneke brings back the father and daughter characters played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert in his last film, Amour. Huppert plays Anne Laurent, head of the dysfunctional Laurent family. The film starts with 12-year-old Eve Laurent (Fantine Harduin) filming her hospitalized mother with a smart phone, in text messages she claims to have poisoned her mother. Eve has to go live with her dad, Anne’s brother Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz), at the family mansion. The whole family lives there: Thomas and his second wife, Anaïs (Laura Verlinden), Anne’s alcoholic son, Pierre (Franz Rogowski), and the senile patriarch, George (Jean-Louis Trintignant). An accident at the family owned construction site, during which a worker was killed, sends Pierre into erratic behaviors and drinking binges. Anne does the best she canto help him, but there seems to be nothing she can do. Eve finds out that her father has an internet sadomasochistic sexual relationship with another woman. As for George, he desperately would like to die. That accident he had with a car he’s not allowed to drive only put him in a wheelchair, and when he asks his barber to buy him a gun or some pills, the barber refuses. Haneke’s characters are not really likable, and he makes it harder to read subtitles. When we see text messages, the subtitles appear in very small letters at the bottom of the computer or the smart phone. This a very cynical, slow-moving film. I would describe it as a black drama, a black comedy without much humour. Not for everyone.
In French and English with English subtittles.