Monday, October 29, 2007

Movie Review- Happiness

So yesterday was a bit of a disturbing, but awesome movie marathon. I watched both Requiem for a Dream and Happiness on the same day within only a few hours of each other. Both were awesome. I have to thank DCap, Morse and Franiam for recommending this film, I am not sure if I would have seen it otherwise. This is an amazing film that shows a dysfunctional family at their most normal. I know that dysfunctional and normal are not normally put together, but this film really shows how the dysfunctional family is becoming the norm in America. The film centers around three sisters in New Jersey. Laura Flynn Boyle plays Helen Jordan, a successful writer who sees herself as a fraud in private, but in public and even with her family gloats about how much she has and how amazing she is as a person. Cynthia Stevens plays Tricia Maplethorpe, a stay at home mom who feels she has it all, a husband and two great kids. Her husband, Bill Maplethorpe, is played by Dylan Baker, who is a psychiatrist. They seem to have the perfect life. Finally, Joy Jordan is played by Jane Adams who is a struggling musician and works as a telemarketer. Philip Seymour Hoffman is also part of the movie and seems to have some kind of connection to almost everyone in the film. Jon Lovitz, Camryn Manheim and Molly Shannon have smaller roles in the film. I normally detest both Jon Lovitz and Molly Shannon in most things they do, but in Happiness, they were really good. The sisters parents are going through a separation, which also adds to the dysfunctionality of the family. I know at this point they do not seem all that dysfunctional, but trust me they are and really you have to see this movie to see how and why I say that, as I do not want to give too much of the movie away.

The most disturbing scenes, other than some obvious ones that I will not talk about as that would ruin the movie, are these three scenes where where Bill and his son are talking about sex. the conversation is so frank and honest, it is a good in many ways, but it is also kind of freaky. In the first conversation, they are discussing what cum is. In the second conversation is about penis length and the third you have to see, but it is definitely the most disturbing. The other line that bothered me was when Bill is talking to the father of another boy and the other boy's father is afraid his son is gay. He responds that maybe he should get his 11 year old son a hooker, when Bill disagrees, his response is along the lines of oh yeah it is probably too late anyway, huh. This bothered me not because I didn't like it and not because I didn't think it was authentic, that was the issue, I know that is probably a typical thought of a certain type of father.

I mentioned the actors by name earlier because all of them were superb. I didn't necessarily know them by name, but I recognized many of them when I saw them. As with Welcome to the Dollhouse, his other film that I reviewed here, the story seems so true and you know that these exact situations happen regularly. As I mentioned above, the movie is another movie that shows just how fucked up life truly can be at times. This is reality at its best/worst.

This song appears in the film and really adds to the oddness of the entire film. I mean Air Supply and well it just is odd in this film, but is so great as well so I had to post the video.


Whiskeymarie said...

Oh, I love me the Air Supply.

I saw Happiness a while back & remember thinking it was good. I really should watch it again though as I have pretty much forgotten everything that happened in it.

FranIAm said...

Air Supply... deep sigh. Remember my advanced age!

Nah! I hated them then, but actually can appreciate its saccharine quality better now.

Well that is a real doozy of a double feature that you gave yourself on Sunday.

It was quite a movie and so not for the mainstream.

Yes it had that ick factor but in mostly a good way. And that whole scene with the other father and the hooker mention... Yikes. But that is of course how so many people think.

One of the things that the film did so well, in my opinion, is to explore the discomfort we all have in any relationship... family, friends, lover/spouse and mostly self.

Then of course, the transition to how intimacy works, sexually and otherwise. Our cries for it and our many ways in which we as humans reject it.

O- the human condition.

Thanks for your great reviews BR!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you liked the film, if "liked" is the word for it. It's really beyond description, but your review was excellent.

Distributorcap said...

great review ---- i saw it when it first came to the theatres and forgot some of the scenes.....

it is a tough movie to watch but worth it

i told you Todd Solanz (i think i spell it differently every time) is not for the faint of heart)