Suicide, depression, infidelity, alcoholism, and just all around general despair make up the various parts of a dysfunctional family in Happy End; it sure is entertaining. And funny.
From Michael Haneke, this brillant drama doesn’t attempt to make these serious topics any more emotionally compelling than they already are. They aren’t tools to manipulate the audience either. While Happy End wants you invested in the affluent, prim and proper characters to a certain extent, it doesn’t ask you to immerse yourself or necessarily root for them; just observe and listen.
It starts early, when a child snoops on her mother with her phone, mocking her with condescending captions. There are a few more acts of voyeurism and meanness that follow, before the camera holds wide on a shot of a construction site accident. These separate incidents will stir the Laurent family, causing chaos and grief. Though not for us.
The eldest of the group is Georges, one half the loving couple from Haneke’s 2012 Amour. Where that film was intimate and intense, Happy End reveals the rest of the family in sardonic, amusing fashion. There is Anne (Isabelle Huppert), a businesswoman whose aforementioned construction company is in hot water; her brother and his fiance who suddenly find themselves taking care of his daughter from a previous marriage; Anne’s drunk son; and Anne’s lover.
Then there is Georges, who has had it with the family and wants to get on with it, making for an enjoyable and staggering portrait of fanciful living.