Review: ‘Happy End’ plays like a sequel to director’s ‘Amour’


In ways both thematic and circumstantial, Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” suggests a sequel of sorts to the Austrian filmmaker’s “Amour.” Like that Oscar-nominated 2012 film, which explored the gray area between coldblooded murder and assisted suicide as an act of love, Haneke’s latest effort also stars Jean-Louis Trintignant, once again in the role of an elderly man named Georges.

Like his character in “Amour,” this Georges, as we gradually learn, has also helped his infirm wife shuffle off this mortal coil, in an act of tenderness that is fraught with troubling moral implications. And now, as he himself becomes increasingly senile, the widower starts looking for someone to help him die. As in the earlier tale, Georges has a daughter played by Isabelle Huppert (although her character here is named Anne, not Eva).

The similarities between the two films, however, end there.

Longtime fans of Haneke will know not to read too much into the fact that Trintignant’s character is named Georges. Haneke almost always names his male characters Georges (or George, or Georg), for reasons that he has attributed to laziness, but which probably have more to do with a desire to mess with our heads than anything else.

This new Georges eventually finds a kindred spirit – if not an enabler – in his granddaughter Eve (Fantine Harduin), a 13-year-old sociopath who, as the film gets underway, has already put one character in a coma via an overdose of prescription medicine. If you find yourself confused about who’s who just reading this review, you’ll be lost in the movie. Relationships between characters are often frustratingly ambiguous; an organizational chart is needed to figure out how everybody connects. That’s seemingly by design: The film opens with voyeuristic, Facebook Live-style videos – shot by an anonymous someone we only later find out is Eve …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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