October 18, 2011

Favorite Flicks: Happiness

It is with some hesitation that I include Happiness as a favorite flick and must warn you: this movie is not for everyone. In fact, it's really only for very few. Happiness is extremely dark and portrays serious taboos with humor so dry it's almost unbearable. I felt hollow for 3 days after my first viewing, but with time I've come to appreciate the movie's commentary on modern relationships and the pursuit of happiness. 
The movie follows multiple characters and subplots all centered around 3 sisters in New Jersey. It begins with the ever-unfortunate Joy breaking up with her boyfriend. Played by John Lovitz, he does not take it well....
We've all known someone like Joy's smug, self-satisfied older sister who is always going on about "having it all."

However, her "ideal" husband, the psychiatrist, harbors a despicable secret obsession. Happiness reveals the horror that can lie beneath the veneer of suburban "perfection." The superb acting is one of the strengths of this movie but also part of what makes it so wince-worthy.
In this movie, every attempt at forming a meaningful connection between two people is beyond disastrous.
One of my favorite actresses, Camryn Manheim, plays a small but strange part, too. Let's just say she's "a very passionate woman."
The third sister is a pretentious but extremely successful poet played perfectly by Laura Flynn Boyle. Philip Seymour Hoffman excels yet again and being creepy but captivating on-screen.
Pictured above is the film's most noted and f-ed up scene which was once parodied by South Park. "I couldn't help myself" is a consistent theme throughout the movie and a disturbing reminder of the unreasonable compulsions that sometimes rule people's choices.
How many of you have seen Happiness? Do you find it unsettling and funny or just plain unsettling?
--m

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1 comment:

  1. I thought it was unsettling, for sure, but it is a well made movie.

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