Happy End

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Happy End
"Haneke is a master of his material, revealing just enough to keep the viewer on tenterhooks but not enough to give an easy explanations."

Intriguing, mystifying, infuriating - the new drama from Austrian auteur Michael Haneke is all of the above and much more besides.

The irony, of course, is in the title. There is nothing happy about the fate of the wealthy Laurent whose fortunes emanate from a construction company.

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With Jean-Louis Trintignant as the aged and wheel-chair using patriarch, who seems to want to exit life to join his late wife and Isabelle Huppert as the head of the family firm exerting her powerful grip on the legacy of previous generations, this could be seen as a follow-on from Haneke’s previous title Amour (also with Trintignant and Huppert).

Haneke sets the film in Calais, enabling him to make comments and allusions about the new social order with the immigrants virtually enslaved in menial roles in the rich household. The family have a veneer of caring about their servants but the concern does not translate in to any useful action.

The film opens with a scene in which a child is seemingly texting about the bathroom activities of a distant woman. The unseen texter would probably be Eve Laurent (Fantine Harduin), an anxious 13-year-old whose mother is in hospital after an overdose and who now lives with her father (Mathieu Kassovitz).

Haneke frequently puts children in the firing line of adult neglect and inappropriate sexual activity and Eve finds herself retreating into her own world as a defence mechanism.

Huppert’s adult son (Franz Rogowski) is a reluctant participant in the family business, goaded by his mother as he is sent to pay off the family of a man injured when a construction site collapses at the start of the film.

Haneke is a master of his material, revealing just enough to keep the viewer on tenterhooks but not enough to give an easy explanations.

Whether this enough to seduce Pedro Almodovar’s jury in to bestowing Haneke with another Palme d’Or remains to be seen.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2017
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Story of a bourgeois family, set against the backdrop of the Calais refugee crisis.

Director: Michael Haneke

Writer: Michael Haneke

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Toby Jones, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Fantine Harduin, Loubna Abidar, Dominique Besnehard, Jack Claudany, Hassam Ghancy, Nabiha Akkari, Franck Andrieux, Jackee Toto

Year: 2017

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: France, Germany, Austria


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