½★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
I've never seen a film by Michael Haneke in my lifetime. I know two things about his films: his films have been acclaimed by many as masterpieces, & you must never expect a happy ending from any of his films.
Happy End, despite the title, doesn't have a happy ending, but that's the best thing to come out of this film: the ending, which was long-awaited after a long, meandering, unfocused mess. The film follows Anne Laurent (played by Isabelle Huppert), the center of a powerful French family in Calais. Her father, Georges (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant), is slowly becoming more ravaged by dementia & has lost his will to live. She finds solace in her fiancé, Lawrence Bradshaw (played by Toby Jones).
Her son, Pierre (played by Franz Rogowski), is the black sheep of the family. He was at the forefront of an accident at a construction site, & he is also an alcoholic.
Her brother, Thomas (played by Mathieu Kassovitz), is a divorcée, currently married to Anaïs (played by Laura Verlinden). His daughter, Eve (played by Fantine Harduin), who lives with his selfish ex-wife, is precocious, to say the least.
All of this family drama will continue to build & build, but a happy end is certainly nowhere in the future of the Laurents.
The cast is unsatisfactory. Isabelle Huppert is really wasted here, & it's a shame because she is one of the greatest actresses of all time. Jean-Louis Trintignant & Toby Jones are also somewhat wasted. Fantine Harduin & Mathieu Kassovitz do a good job with what they're given.
Michael Haneke's direction is underwhelming. Haneke is totally unfocused behind the camera. He has no idea what he is doing with the film. It's tonally inconsistent, & has no idea what it wants to be: Is it a satire? Is it a family drama? What is it? We don't know.
Michael Haneke's screenplay is terrible. The plot & story are so boring, & the dialogue is completely nonsensical & pseudo-intellectual.
And Monika Willi's editing is awful. There are barely any cuts in the film. Even though I'm a fan of long takes, something has to happen in them. Would it have harmed anyone if Willi actually made a cut more than once every 5 minutes? Probably not. Also, the film drags on, making the film's runtime feel unbearable.
This was one of the worst films of 2017. It's nonsensical, boring, & a bad start for my venture into the filmography of Michael Haneke. Let's hope his previous films are better.
Happy End was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Monday, February 19, 2018. It is no longer in theaters in the Detroit area. Its runtime is 107 minutes, & it is rated R for some sexual material & language.