Terribly Happy

Terribly Happy


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Robert Hansen is the new police Marshall in the small town of Skarrild - and he and the town both meet with a small truckload of skeletons hidden away. He pops anti-depressants to help shield his thoughts from the past, and the town's skeletons are alluded to in the opening voice over about the bog that runs nearby, a perpetual slough and convenient place to hide them.

The townsfolk are a strange arm's length lot, equally as oblique as the bog's undoubtedly TARDIS-style contents. The doctor supplies narcotics - a heroin shooting up kit is in plain view - and your clothes need to be put on the line to dry in a way that would give Sleeping With The Enemy's Patrick Bergin a right hard-on. And what do you do about the abused wife, Inglese, who also has her own messed up past?

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Hansen's good intentions are tested, both with a disappearing bike dealer and the omnipresent villagers seemingly knowing everyone's every move. His behaviour changes due to him flushing his meds down the loo. He starts drinking beer instead of mineral water. Also, ever-more intriguing plot developments will press him in ways he's never been pressed before. Inglese is interested in the new Marshall, but he does not reciprocate, initially.

This is an engrossing and well-made thriller, which mixes the visual and storytelling constructs of various genres, in much the same fashion the Coens did with No Country For Old Men (and Fargo, in its gorgeous obsession with landscapes and the opening text reading "Based on True Events" - AYE RIGHT!). The epic western and noir genres come first to mind, but writer/director Henrik Ruben Genz always tries to defy expectation, the story flowing from one idea to another like quicksilver. The result is an effective and well-made film which slowly gets its hooks into you. Even games of cards with the villagers, outside the main thrust of the plot, have significance. In nearly every scene of weight there's always a passer-by, and the villagers always seem to know everything.

Technically, the film is superb - director of photography Jorgen Johansson provides a strange off-kilter shot selection, framed gorgeously in 2.35:1 anamorphic; the movie is full of shots that make full use of the widescreen stage.

Terribly Happy is a terrific movie, skilfully directed and gripping.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2009
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When a town cop is reassigned to a provincial beat, he finds that rather than inflicting order on the locals, they have a disturbing affect on him.
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Director: Henrik Ruben Genz

Writer: Henrik Ruben Genz, Dunja Gry Jensen, Erling Jepsen

Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, Kim Bodnia, Lars Brygmann, Anders Hove, Henrik Lykkegaard

Year: 2008

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Denmark


EIFF 2009
Glasgow 2010

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