Happy End (2017) Poster

(2017)

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7/10
Not Haneke's best but still manages to engage with cultural relevance and authenticity
Will Jeffery1 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a fan of Michael Haneke, so I was looking forward to his latest film. From his previous films and now this one, he is clearly a filmmaker interested in surveillance; the film opens and closes with shots from a phone screen surveying 'crime' in one way or another. A filmmaker also concerned with social issues, this film is about a disjointed family in crisis with a backdrop of the European refugee crisis. Join that with the modern way to keep everyone 'connected' with technology (social media or smartphones) you can perhaps read what Haneke is trying to say about European Identity. There are a lot of scenes that drag and the narrative is unfortunately disconnected forcing the audience to join dots so 'Happy End' had the potential to be a lot more.
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6/10
Haneke's bleak view on the world
Ruben Mooijman6 November 2017
If the screenplay of 'Happy End' is an indication of Michael Haneke's view on the world, it is a very bleak one. There is no happy end to this film; in fact there is very little happiness whatsoever.

Haneke's portrayal of a French bourgeois family is extremely dark. The grandfather wants to kill himself, the son is exchanging kinky chat sessions with someone who is not his wife, the grandson is a spoiled brat with a low self-esteem, and the twelve year old granddaughter is an angel-faced scoundrel. Only Anne, the daughter who runs the family business, is relatively normal.

The film opens with homemade smartphone video images, followed by images from a surveillance camera. It's Haneke's way of keeping distance from his characters: he is merely the observer. This is also emphasized by several scenes in which the camera registers the events from a distance. It's all typical Haneke, as well as the elongated scenes in which not much happens. Haneke doesn't make it easy for the audience: in the first half of the film, the scenes don't really seem to be related, only after a while things become more clear.

In some films by Haneke, these style elements work well and add value to the story. But in 'Happy End', it feels like they have become Haneke trademarks just for the sake of it. They're not drawing the viewer into the film but instead creating a barrier, preventing a full appreciation of it.

Still, if you're ready to get over some cinematographic hurdles, this can be a very rewarding film. Perhaps some elements are a bit too much, but at least it doesn't leave you indifferent.
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10/10
A Happy End for some.......
kieronboote-134-96947219 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen some wonderful films recently such as "Three Billboards....", "The Shape of Water" etc that I really enjoyed. Then you see a film by a master like Haneke and suddenly you are transported to a whole new level of film making. This is a film that intellectually and visually provides a commentary on the state of the world at the moment. Haneke is a sort of Noam Chomsky for the eyes but as the supreme moral chronicler his world view has a satisfyingly more muscular and biting edge to it. Indeed Haneke operates on an intellectual and moral level that very few filmmakers have ever approached. Only a handful of films such as Godard's "Weekend" ( although Godard can never escape a blatant didacticism, or a frequent obsession with his leading ladies), Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief His Wife and Her Lover" and Bunuel's "the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" provide such a pleasure for the senses and the brain as Haneke's work does..

The film launches you into the various machinations of a construction company owning upper middle class family. Sexualised internet messages from people having affairs, phone camera's voyeuristically recording someone's mother as she passes from intimate daily routines through to the anonymous and almost impersonalised death throes of the character. These moments are designed to actively engage your brain right from the outset as you start to try and construct the narrative gaps. However they also serve, mirroring Haneke's 1992 film "Benny's Video", to show the distancing effect of technology on real human interaction and the almost sociopathic impact that this technology has on people's minds.

The film places us at the centre of a successful, cultured and beautiful family headed by a grandfather sinking towards dementia, brilliantly played by Jean Louis Trintignant who at 87 may have delivered here his greatest performance since the "Conformist". As we move behind this facade we see a son, played by Mathieu Kassovitz , who is a care giving doctor in his daily life but someone who does not know how to love or give genuine care to his own family, a man who is at his most alive typing out his sexual fantasies on facebook messenger. There is an austere daughter, played by the greatest screen actress of her generation Isabelle Huppert, who is the cold steel holding the family construction business together. There is the troubled grandson, Huppert's son, played by Franz Rogowski, physically imperfect and hence doomed to failure. Then there is the sweet looking granddaughter, brilliantly played Fantine Harduin, who delivers an astonishing performance for a 12 year old, who has been so tainted by this dysfunctional family and by the her constant reliance upon a version of life that is one step removed from reality by her phone video camera that she can barely grasp the fundamental morals of reality. Yet tragically all that she wants is to be loved and to belong.

There are the house servants of North African origin and the mongrel family dog, always filmed from the outside looking in and reduced to taking it's frustration out on the lowest ranking member of the household, the cooks daughter. Perhaps representing a world where the disenfranchised have their hatred misdirected to other struggling people rather than focussing upon those who are really responsible for their difficulties.

This is a living breathing world trapped inside the problems of the current day. Where migrants are forced to leave their homes, not for economic reasons but because their family members have been burnt alive by fundamentalist Muslims, Muslim extremists funded by Trump's fossil fuel buddies the Saudi Arabians and subtly referenced by the oil rigs shown in the film. A time and place where the simple physical presence of these dark skinned people at a gleaming white wedding serves to show the profound contrast in these people's lives. A world where Brexit is serving to disrupt the relationship between England and France (hence the inclusion of the English speaking character played by Toby Jones). A world where everything is contractual and where an ordinary working man's life is worth 35,000 Euro's and the compensation for a dog bite on a North African child is the remnants of a box of chocolates.

A brilliantly crafted film where every second seems to be perfectly judged, from intimate interiors to a terrific exterior tracking shot of the suicidal family patriarch, but keeping us as distanced observers, inviting us to actually THINK not consume. A film where every interior, every wardrobe choice seems to be casually perfect. Inside this coruscating study of an upper middle class family Mr Haneke has produced a time capsule of the difficulties of living in a world where the richest 1% have as much wealth as the next 99% of people of the world and where the news media and impersonalising, isolating influence of social media drives us to misunderstand issues and to hate the rest of the 99%. A film with a happy ending for one of the characters, and one that I have to say I found highly amusing, and an ending that reinforces that the rich can literally get away with murder.
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6/10
in their own bleak world
David Ferguson18 January 2018
Greetings again from the darkness. Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has blessed us with, what I consider, at least five excellent movies (AMOUR, THE WHITE RIBBON, CACHE, FUNNY GAMES, THE PIANO TEACHER), and though it's been 5 years since his last, there is always a welcome anticipation for his next project. Unfortunately, this latest is esoteric and disjointed even beyond his usual style. In fact, at face value, it just seems only to be an accusation lobbed at the wealthy, stating that their privilege and cluelessness brings nothing but misery and difficulty to themselves and the rest of society.

We open on an unknown kid's secretive cell phone video filming of her mother getting ready for bed, followed by the mistreatment of a pet hamster as a lab rat, and finally video of her mother passed out on the sofa - just prior to an ambulance being called. Our attention is then turned to a family estate in Calais, which is inhabited by the octogenarian patriarch Georges (Jean-Louis Trintigant), his doctor son Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert), Anne's malcontent son Pierre (Franz Rogowski), Thomas' wife and infant son, and the Moroccan couple who are household servants. While her mother is being treated for an overdose, 13 year old Eve (Fantine Harduin), moves in to the estate (Thomas is her re-married father). It's here that we learn the opening scenes were Eve's video work ... clearly establishing her as a damaged soul.

Initially, it seems as though we will see the family through Eve's eye, but what follows instead is the peeling back of family layers exposing the darkness and menace that haunts each of these characters. Georges appears to be intent on finding a way out of the life that has imprisoned his body and is now slowly taking his mind through dementia. Thomas is carrying on an illicit affair through raunchy email exchanges. Anne is trying to protect the family construction business from the incompetence of her son Pierre, while also looking for love with solicitor Toby Jones. At times, we are empathetic towards Eve's situation, but as soon as we let down our guard, her true colors emerge. The film is certainly at its best when Ms. Harduin's Eve is front and center. Her scene with her grandfather Georges uncovers their respective motivators, and is chilling and easily the film's finest moment.

The film was a Cannes Palme d'Or nominee, but we sense that was in respect to Mr. Haneke's legacy, and not for this particular film. The disjointed pieces lack the necessary mortar, or even a linking thread necessary for a cohesive tale. What constitutes a happy end ... or is one even possible? Perhaps that's the theme, but the film leaves us with a feeling of incompleteness - or perhaps Haneke just gave up trying to find such an ending, and decided commentary on the "bourgeois bubble" was sufficient.
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3/10
Get Out Your Hanekes
writers_reign10 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Haneke is, of course, flavour of the month and a major player in the Academic-Pseud set. Alas, Isabelle Huppert, one of the finest actresses in captivity, has a penchant for sleaze, quirkiness, and the like which leads her toward the Hanekes of this world and ultimately means that if admirers want to see Huppert in full spate it is necessary to endure the self-regarding pretentiousness of material such as this. On the credit side Huppert will, on occasion, make a pure entertaining movie like Alexandra Leclere's Les Souers fachees, which is worth ten Hanekes. This time around Haneke gives us his idea of subtle by placing a hugely affluent but dysfunctional family in Calais so that we, the audience, can cry, 'Ah, these poor, rich bastards in the big house don't know where they're well off, if only they'd take a look at all that human flotsam just outside the grounds, living like pigs on the hope of getting to England. You could have found more subtle messaging - Yankee Go Home - on the walls of any German town in the immediate post-war years. See it for Huppert.
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4/10
Haneke only hitting some right notes here
Warning: Spoilers
"Happy End" is a French-Austrian co-production released this year (2017) and these 105 minutes are Austria's current submission to the Oscars. If you read the name Haneke, then you will certainly know that the title is not meant to be seriously but sarcastically. The cast is predominantly French and French is also the main language here, but you will also find actors from several other European countries. It is a pretty absurd and rather awkward tale at times as basically everybody is really just for himself, especially the grown-ups and they effortlessly transfer their rotten characters to the next generation with their behavior towards them. There is for example the scene where the dad talks about the old man's suicide attempt in front of the daughter, lets her hear everything and then tries to comfort her. Or of course all interactions between Huppert and Rogowski. A lot more is broken in this film than just that one wall. Speaking of Haneke and his last Austrian Oscar submission, there are moments when you could think that, especially with everything revolving Trintignant's character, this film here is a sequel. But there are moments when it also doesn't seem that way, for example Huppert's character's name.

Anyway, this film here has nothing on Amour, which is a genuine masterpiece in my opinion and it's also way weaker than "The White Ribbon" in my opinion. It's an okay family drama overall and a decent character study about everybody involved and Haneke once again proves how strong he is as the few moments when he goes a bit over the top still don't keep this film from being very authentic. The acting is good too all around. Trintignant shines once again, but I may be biased as I like him a lot and think he should have won the Oscar for Amour already. Another pretty positive surprise is Fantine Harduin and she was really good here, could have a bright career ahead if she decides to take the actress path. Back to Haneke, this is maybe one of his most provocative works. When he kills the hamster early on, most audience members feel really bad for the animal, but almost nobody feels bad for the woman in the background basically suffering the same tragic fate. The reason in my opinion is that we know the woman did not die really, but the animal did and I just cannot approve of that. I think Haneke is a really great filmmaker, but this recurring theme from is films is just wrong. Another provocative scene is when the son brings these Black men to the party as many in the audience maybe thought oh these are the ones the old man asked earlier to kill him right? Especially when the old man quickly decides to leave the occasion. But I think it is not. But it adds salt to the wound that to Whites Blacks do look the same. At least I interpreted this scene like that. So yes, overall it wasn't a bad watch, even if it was inferior to Haneke's 2 most recent other works, clearly inferior in fact. But as this one offers a lot to discuss too (as always with Haneke thanks to the depth in his films and characters), I'd give it a ***/*****, but I have to remove one star because of the hamster scene at the very start. The "no animals were harmed" part during the closing credits should also apply to Haneke. I mean it's not like the son was really beaten up that one scene (i.e. the actor), but why not do that too if he lets his animals even do method acting in terms of life and death and I am not saying any actors should really get killed (absolutely not!), but the animal violence/killing part, even if it is for the art of cinema, is just wrong and ultimately has me giving this film a thumbs-down. Don't watch.
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7/10
Worth watching from the beginning
Daniel Stuckey10 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The is the first time I have seen a movie from this director and though I had trouble getting into it at the beginning, it was well worth it sitting through the first part.

The movie is nothing but depressing and has no happy ending with the story of a french family of wealth and standing demonstrating how seriously screwed up you can be.

I found the cuts between scene's annoying in some places with the previous scene introducing an event ever so briefly, for it not to happen or relate to the next scene or referred to again.

In someways the movie was too long with too many scene's used to make a longer movie.

With all this said it is though well worth seeing, with the final scene a cracker!
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5/10
The Karaoke scene to end all karaoke scenes
Shelly L.13 September 2017
Haneke braves the new world, the modern world. He braves criticism at our youth's cell phone culture and our need for an audience. Haneke braves comedic elements, making us laugh to show how ridiculous our behavior has become in this past century. Haneke steps out of his comfort zone with this film. Does he succeed? Meh.
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3/10
Happy it End-ed
ccorral41910 January 2018
Happy End. The title says it all here - I was "Happy" when it came to an "End". Director/Writer Michael Haneke ("Amour" 2012) has a following that this first time viewer of his work doesn't get. With an opening that is long and doesn't make sense, a story line that is filled with so many sub-storylines that aren't fully established or supported, camera work that lingers way too long on various subjects, and subtitles that wiz by at times, the experience just isn't worth it. Set in the Calias, France estate of patriarch George Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant "Amour"), we find him fed up with his alcoholic daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert "Elle" 2016) and her wondering son Pierre, his twice divorced son Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz ""Amelie" 2001) and Thomas' introverted daughter Eve (Fantine Harduin "Fanny's Journey" 2016) who comes to live with him after her mother is hospitialized with self poisoning. If only George can end his life-I feel your pain George, I feel your pain! Along the way, we meet family lawyer Brashaw (Toby Jones "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy" 2011), who becomes one of the family during a very odd reception. Director Haneke may have a story here, but he's unable to keep the multiple storylines clear, and often the camera work is too close to the environment thus make it unclear as to where we are in the story and the various locations. Little Fantine Harduin at least makes the viewing experience somewhat interesting. Why more viewers didn't work out of this one, I'll never understand. This film was screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival #PSIFF2018
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