Sunday, December 17, 2017
when i said to a friend, you should go and see michael haneke’s ‘happy end’ whilst it’s still on, she said, oh… someone told me it wasn’t as good as his previous films! i was incredulous, having just laughed and cried (and indeed, yawned) my way through the nearly two hours of haneke’s latest masterpiece (set in calais of all places — and with good reason) in the minuscule cinema 4 at the cinecenter in amsterdam - some people have bigger lounge rooms than this! but the two people i was with didn’t like the film much either, although one of them did enjoy a good sleep during the first half.
as usual haneke doesn’t make it easy for his audience and if you’re unfamiliar with his devices - very long takes with static cameras where you’re unable to hear the dialogue, extreme longshots, screens within screens - and his main trope, the fault lines of human existence and late capitalism, dysfunctional relationships, corruption, ageing, death and the wish to die, unhappiness, immorality, and the problem of being… well… a young person and the problem of being a parent, then you may be in for an ordeal.
peter bradshaw in his guardian review (five stars) pretty much nails it but i wouldn’t recommend reading it if you are going to see the film. but that’s because my personal preference is for seeing a film knowing as little as possible about it. if you’ve seen ‘amour’ (and if you haven’t, what? what is wrong with you??!) you’ll be rewarded with another memorable and deeply moving performance by jean-louis trintignant - as for fantine harduin, she is simply superb as eve, the inscrutable 13 year old centrepiece of the film. oh and then there is also isabelle hupert who plays her deeply unsympathetic character with the usual aplomb, but each actor’s performance is excellent.
this is one of those films i want to see again immediately (preferably in a large, empty cinema) so as to be immersed again in haneke’s strange universe and to pick up on the details i missed the first time.
don’t miss it once, or don’t miss it twice — but don’t miss it!