Friday, 4 January 2013

Happiness (1998)

Todd Solondz, you beautiful man.  I have a feeling you're going to become one of my favorite filmmakers.  One of my favorite genres is dark comedy.  In fact, it might be my favorite.  Todd Solondz' 1998 masterpiece, Happiness is black comedy at is finest and to some, its most disturbing.  It revolves around the lives of many people trying to find happiness, but some of the things that make them happy aren't exactly accepted within the norms of society.  We have a pedophile father who has daydreams about a killing spree in a park, but he is a good father, who gives his son all the advice he needs on masturbation.  Then there's the stalker who makes threatening phone calls to women to get himself off.  Or how about the woman who's in love with him who breaks into homes just to cuddle but hates sex?  Did I mention she was raped, murdered her attacker, cut him up and left him in the freezer?  We don't see a lot of this stuff happen, but we're very well informed that it did.

Happiness is centered around the lives of 3 sisters who live in different worlds.  There's Joy, a lonely songwriter who's unlucky in love and in luck.  She tries to do good but only bad things happen to her.  Helen is a successful writer with an obsessive neighbor who makes violently graphic phone calls.  When he can't live up to his threats, Helen is disappointed.  Lastly, we have Trish.  On paper she has the perfect life; a family, a successful husband, carpool, etc. However, she doesn't have the creativity her sisters have.  Her husband also happens to have some uncontrollable urges.  The sisters parents are also on the verge of separation.  Not exactly the Brady Bunch, eh?

I don't know if Happiness is supposed to be a satire on American family life, but it certainly is effective.  Each character is searching for happiness but only end up with disappointment.  It's a daring movie that really makes us think.  We get to know each character so well and genuinely want them to find happiness, but then again, how can you root for a deranged neurotic telephone pervert or a pedophile who has openly sexual conversations with his son?  Damn, it's funny though.  At the end of the movie when little Billy says, ''I came'' you'll laugh, but you'll also cheer for the little guy because, in a way, it's a happy ending (no pun intended lol).  You see, ''cumming'' was all he wanted to do the entire movie so at least one of them found ''happiness.''

Disturbing content?  You betcha.  However, it's all presented in a humorous way that you'll be laughing with ease.  We shouldn't laugh at these people but we do.  We even kinda like them, and some of them we definitely shouldn't.  I really recommend this.

1 comment:

  1. I used to own Happiness and fate conspired against me, I somehow only ever saw half the bloody thing. I must get back to it one day.