Details: (R18+), 134 mins, United States, English
Synopsis: From the director of Welcome To The Dollhouse comes a wickedly comic and confronting tale of perversity and desire in contemporary suburbia. Set in New Jersey, Happiness interweaves the stories of three sisters.The hippiefied lost soul Joy Jordan, the self loathing best-selling author Helen, and Trish, a chirpy passive-aggressive housewife, who has no idea her psychiatrist husband secretly lusts after their young son’s friends and dreams of mass murder. Happiness is guaranteed to make you smirk and guaranteed to make you squirm.
Exceptionally confronting yet the ability to make us weep and laugh.
Independent American filmmaker Todd Solondz whose only other feature film was the agonizingly poignant Welcome to the Dollhouse now presents his ironically titled Happiness. In terms of dysfunctional families the Jordan`s would have to take the cake. Seemingly happily married Trish (Cynthia Stevenson), is married to Bill (Dylan Baker), a father knows best on the surface, a paedophile not so deep down. Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle), is a successful writer who suspects she`s a phoney and who`s attracted to the anonymous phone caller who says he wants to rape her. He`s actually her next door neighbour Allen - Philip Seymour Hoffman - who`s not really her type at all. And then there`s Joy, one of life`s major losers who lurches from one painful mistake to the next.
Solondz has created an occasionally funny but mainly excruciatingly painful world in which there are no connections of value and any attempts to form a relationship are woeful misfires. The character of Bill, seemingly a caring father who has honest birds and bees talks with his son Billy (Rufus Read), is a major confrontation for an audience. Solondz has ventured into the most dangerous of territories here, appalling us and making us weep. The entire cast, which also includes Louise Lasser and Ben Gazzara as the parents of these three women, is stunningly solid and brave. Solondz`s writing and direction is first rate. This is a daring film, but one of the best I saw in Cannes last year.
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