Happy End

A Michael Haneke film that never quite commits to any perspective or rhythm, though Haneke's distrust of technology comes through loud and clear.

Happy End. Copyright Films du Losange

Happy End isn’t quite Michael Haneke’s Inland Empire, but it is oddly shapeless coming from the director of Funny Games. After her mother collapses from the same not-so-mysterious ailment as her hamster, both of which are stealthily recorded by 13-year-old vlogger Eve Laurent (Fatine Harduin), she moves in with her father, Thomas (Mathieu Kassowitz), and his second wife, Anaïs (Laura Verlinden), who Thomas is cheating on online. Also present is Thomas’ sister Anne (Isabelle Huppert), who runs the family construction company. She hopes her volatile, seldom-do-well son Pierre (Franz Rogowski) will take it over, though he didn’t want the responsibility even before a worker was killed in an on-site accident.

Meanwhile, wheelchair-bound grandfather Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant from Haneke’s Amour) wants nothing more than to not have to keep living. Happy End flirts with using Eve as a point-of-view character but never really commits to it, mostly because it never quite commits to any perspective or rhythm, though Haneke’s distrust of technology comes through loud and clear. A karaoke scene in which Pierre utterly mutilates Sia’s “Chandelier” has been getting a lot of attention because it’s karaoke in a Michael Haneke film, but like so many scenes in the decline of the magnificent Laurents, it’s as conspicuous as a brass band at a funeral.

Rated R.
Opens Friday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

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