By Anna Power
Happy End is certainly far from happy – a heavy hint of the irony to be found in this darkest of satirical tales of familial dysfunction amid the bourgeoisie. Twisted from the outset, this misanthropic tale will make you squirm and laugh and often simultaneously.
Haneke’s trade mark style is stamped all over this film from the guilty over-privilege of the wealthy, to the theme of assisted dying, following on from his 2014 Palme D’Or winning Amour, all revisited to hilarious effect.
This is a fragmented, fragile family each with their own secrets and dubious inclinations.13 year old Eve, has a penchant for poisoning and videoing the results – a perfect little psychopath in the making. After her mother is admitted to hospital she goes to live with her father Thomas Laurent (Mattieu Kassovitz) and joins the Laurent family in their impressive Calais apartments. Her father is now married to his second wife, with a new baby and is having an affair – getting his kicks from fervent kinky messaging. Grandad (Jean- Louis Trintignant) is in the early stages of dementia and having had enough of life is determined to end it all. Isabelle Huppert is his daughter Anne, engaged to Toby Jones a London based financier, a seemingly loveless and probably financially beneficial marriage and her son Pierre is an unpredictable, irascible drunk who is fond of public speaking.
The film too is fragmented, with shards of story thrown together and there are times when it was hard to know who you were looking at and why, so difficult was it to decipher but this all adds to the tension and is typical of Haneke, allowing the overview to creep up on you, coming together in a farcical closing scene.
A new film from Haneke is always an anticipated event and Happy End is no exception. A skillful interwoven narrative with moments of disarming hilarity. It’s deliciously dark and not just a bit demented.
First shown at this year’s London Film Festival.
Happy End is in cinemas from Friday 1st December.