Happy End Is Another Haneke Horror Show 

Isabelle Huppert stars in Michael Haneke’s latest excursion to the dark side.

click to enlarge movies2-ae699bc40cf55160.jpg

You might characterize the cinema of Michael Haneke as an acquired taste. The international filmmaker's relentlessly misanthropic scenarios definitely aren't for everyone.

A reasonable critical argument can be made in favor of his most resonant films — The Piano Teacher, The White Ribbon — but there's no denying that enduring his worldview can feel like a long slog through hostile territory, with precious little reward at the end, aside from the satisfaction of having persevered. Anyone who has sat through the bitter, pitiless Amour (2012) can probably relate.

Which brings us to Haneke's latest, Happy End. The Laurent family of Calais, France, have a successful business of real estate development, but it's set against the background of the nearby "jungle," where thousands of desperate migrants camp out in the vain hope of reaching the U.K. That context takes on a variety of meanings in the minds of the patriarch, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), his ambitious daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert), and Anne's estranged adolescent niece, Eve (Fantine Harduin), who has arrived to spend some time with the family. The common denominators are gloom and hopelessness. If I were to tell you — spoiler alert! — that the logical denouement of this saga of an unhappy family is the spectacle of a sick old man deliberately sinking into the sea in his wheelchair, longtime Haneke watchers would hardly bat an eye. Another day at the office.

Haneke veterans Huppert and Trintignant handle their roles with skill. The filmmaker filigrees his point of view into every crack and crevice. It's an accomplished piece of work. But it left me sick at heart, with a feeling of emptiness, and I wanted nothing more to do with it.

Happy End Written and directed by Michel Haneke. With Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Opens Friday.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in Movie Review

  • He's the Human Tor-Nay-Duh!

    Eddie Murphy socko as Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite Is My Name.
    • Oct 8, 2019
  • Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

    Or more accurately, 3,500 miles, with the migrant family of Midnight Traveler.
    • Oct 2, 2019
  • Phoenix Rising

    Joker is one of this year’s most important films, and Joaquin Phoenix is the reason why.
    • Oct 1, 2019
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Holiday Guide 2018

A guide to this holiday season's gifts, outings, eats, and more.

Fall Arts 2018

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

© 2019 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation