Unlikable Lead Character: Our Review of ‘My Happy Ending’

Posted in Movies by - April 19, 2023
Unlikable Lead Character: Our Review of ‘My Happy Ending’

In order for a movie to be considered watchable it needs several different things. First and foremost it needs a good basic story, and the new film My Happy Ending has that. It also needs good actors, at least ones who can convince you they are the characters they are playing. With a cast that includes Andie MacDowell, Miriam Margolyes and Sally Phillips, My Happy Ending has that covered as well. At least passably so. What it doesn’t have however is a main character you can get behind, whose story you enjoy watching, which unfortunately sinks the film.

My Happy Ending follows the story of Julia (MacDowell). She’s an aging movie star who has been sent to a clinic by her doctor to start receiving chemotherapy treatments for her suddenly discovered cancer. Julia wants privacy. Instead, she is horrified to find out that she’ll be receiving her treatments in a general ward with three other women. She calls her manager to try and help rectify the situation. But as she waits to find out if a room is available for her she starts to doubt if she even wants to get the treatment in the first place.

It’s not uncommon for cancer patients to form a bond over their disease. Cheering for each other is therapeutic, and many times can help with the healing process. It’s also common for people to doubt their decision about going through with chemotherapy. In that regard My Happy Ending is fascinating, and even enjoyable to watch. While their shared therapy sessions are a little confusing, it doesn’t detract from the over all story. Unfortunately however,  MacDowell’s character is so vain and arrogant that you start tuning out mid-way through the film.

The type of character MacDowell plays would be fine if she weren’t the lead. If she was a background character that you could tune out once she had her say, the film wouldn’t suffer. The problem is though, she is the lead. The film exists to make you feel sympathy for her, which you do at first, but quickly lose once respect goes out the window. If the character redeemed herself in the end and grew in some way, we could accept her flaws, but she doesn’t. Perhaps the problem isn’t so much the character herself, as it is the way she is written. She flip flops from a character that seems to be growing, only to head further down in the opposite direction.

My Happy Ending is an adaptation of the semi-autobiographical play of the same name by the late playwright Anat Gov. It was her way of dealing with her terminal cancer diagnosis. Screenplay writer Rona Tamir doesn’t seem to get the point of what the play was about. In the process, she made a mess of it all. I don’t want to give something away. But there is also one scene at the end that should not be in the film and is insulting to cancer survivors. It involves a bell. And anyone who has gone through chemotherapy treatments, or knows anyone who has, will know the significance of it. They’ll also know why it needs ta different treatment than the one we got. My Happy Ending is a movie you will find yourself wishing would end much sooner than it does.

  • Release Date: 4/18/2023
This post was written by
While Roderick has only been writing movie reviews for a relatively short time, he's been a fan of film for as long as he can remember. It's a love affair that started when he saw Star Wars at a drive-in theatre in Kitchener when he was four years old. In the past decade he's fulfilled his dream of interviewing celebrities, attending red carpets events at festivals such as TIFF and writing reviews for outlets such as Realstylenetwork.com. He's always on the hunt for the next big thing to hit the screen.
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