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August 02, 2006

Happiness - 6

This is an intense film. I think it is a good film but hard to recommend to most people. It also got to a lot of themes before American Beauty did - just less arty. The subject is a dysfunctional family and the blunt seriousness in which they deal with questions of divorce, sex, and their inability to find happiness. While parts of the film are funny, the serious way the characters deal with life make you feel bad for laughing. While the film is about happiness it comes at it from the angle of how we rarely act toward our own happiness. Rather than pursue happiness, the characters just sort of do what they want and expect the consequences to be good. The film starts with relatively happy characters, who don't know it, and they end up being unhappy. The main criticism I have of the film is that there are many characters and storylines which don't have good transitions - the vignettes just come at you sort of randomly (Although not as bad as Todd Solondz later film Storytelling). Great performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle and child actor Rufus Read.

1 comment:

Paul said...

This is a strong, strong film, though sometimes the performances do carry otherwise overly-ironic writing. But the park dream sequence with Dylan Baker will go with me to my death and the opening does have my buddy Jon Lovitz's best role ever.

Not always enjoyable, but it's a very good film. I'd rank it about the same. And you might check out Solondz's debut "Welcome to the Dollhouse" which has the trademark irony and uncomfortable situations, but they hadn't become his trademark yet, so they're better integrated.