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List price: £19.99|
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Average customer rating:
4.07 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : B00004T8VO
Manufacturer : Entertainment in Video|
Release data : 15 May, 2000
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Happiness is not a fish that you can catch
Wow. Todd Solondzs controversial ensemble drama certainly turned a few heads when it was released. The staple of every critics Top 10 list for 1998 and the winner of the International Critics Prize at Cannes, and its not hard to see why. The film is brilliantly written with some great direction. The bunch of misfits is this story range from a chronic masturbator to a girl with extremely bad luck in men. However its easily Dylan Bakers performance as a closet paedophile that sticks the most.
If there are any faults with this film, its that not all the storylines are greatly expanded on or tied up at the end. But that is just a minor fault in what is a must see film.
Brilliant but not to all tastes........ Spoilers included
Happiness Review by Minnie Warnings Firstly if you are easily shocked, or do not like American Art House Cinema, then this may not be for you. There are bits in it which even grossed me out. If you are looking for a film which is about, or even allows for happiness in its protagonists, then this is also not the film for you.
As "The DayTrippers" was "Huis Clos" in a a Station Wagon, "Happiness" is Hannah and her twisted sisters, in New Jersey.
The film loosely follows the lives of the three Jordan sisters living in New Jersey. Joy is a nice kind unfocused failure, Trish a smug suburban mother, married to Bill a closet paedophile, and Helen the outwardly beautiful, but inwardly self-obsessed and narcissistic poet.
Basically Joy breaks off her relationship with a sad desperate loser of a workmate, in a restaurant. A great opening scene in which the gentle manner in which the relationship is broken off is brilliantly turned on its head, by the rejected boyfriend. Upset by the fact that this guy later kills himself, Joy quits her job and starts teaching immigrants. She meets a Russian spiv who takes advantage of her.
Her sister the poet is bothered by the sucess of her "superficial"soul searching poetry, and her success with money, work, and sex life. She wonders when someone will like her for herself, not just because she is beautiful and successful. This leads to a semi flirtation with the obscene phone pest played by PSH.
Her sister Trish has an outwardly happy life with a successful psychiatristhusband Bill. Yet there are dark secrets here too. She has no sex life and her husband drugs her and the rest of the family in order to molest the friend of his son.
Dylan Baker is really excellent as the father of the family. His scenes with his son are upsetting, shocking, thought provoking and yet there is a really wierd sense of his pain too. (Please don't take me to task on this, paedophilia is a vile, evil and unforgiveable crime and this character is a really sick bastard Ok ).
Also Brilliant is Phil Seymour Hoffman. His role is that of the boring lonely neighbour of Helen, whonurses a sick obscene facination for her. This sickness takes the form of obscene phonecalls down the Jordans of the phone directory. Helen responds initially but then when he reveals himself to her, is cruelly rejected. He's brilliant, fat, ugly and vile in this role,
He in turn is bothered by his neighbour ,Camryn Mannheim,who has killed? the night porter of their flats. Their relationship based on rejected loneliness are some of the films most poignant sections.
I would really recommend this film but its NOT for everyone.
Parting Comment, You will never kiss your dog, after this film ever again, and thats a good thing too.
The Best Film of All TIme
This is my favourite film and, if you open your mind just a little bit, you will be greatly rewarded.
Yes, this movie contains child rape, murder, masturbation, paeodophelia etc. but the film is as masterful as it is because it already assumes the audience knows that these things are bad. This is a rare film that will not preach to your "inner conscience" and respects its' audience.
An connecting tale of family disfunction and sexual inadequacy all joined Short Cuts/ Magnolia/ Pulp Fiction style by one or two events is centrally about three daughters, one a terminally smiling but incredibly unfulfilled social worker (Jane Adams), another an unknowing housewife (Cynthia Stevenson) to a paeodophile and the "succesful" one, a beautiful poet with many sexual conquests but feels emotionally empty (Lara Flynn Boyle) and their parents' (Ben Gazzera and Louise Lasser) breakdown of a thirty-year marriage. The film shows all of these (outwardly) normal people, yet many other detailed and brilliant characters, on their search for fulfilment, love and happiness.
Todd Solondz's incredibly ambitious and emotially shattering third film (see also his last: Welcome to the Dollhouse, almost perfect) is a masterpiece, not only of genius scriptwriting that makes you want to laugh, scream, cry and burn the film all in a single line, but also some of the most beautifully underplayed direction, unlike Sam Mendes' recent Oscar winning helming. The relationships are perfectly portayed with the ending scene between Bill, the paeodophile, and his betrayed son one of the most heart wrenching in cinema history.
The acting is completely perfect. From Jon Lovitz's (yes, Jon Lovitz) initially confusing breakdown at the outset to the now eponymous Phillip Seymour Hoffman's phone sex pervert and Dylan Baker's psychiatrist paeodophile, every one would, in a perfect world, take home Oscars.
Instances in this film may make you want to stop watching and damn the film for filth. Don't. This is one of few masterpieces to come out of America in the last decade. Many will not have the stomach for anything quite so perverse but it simply demands to be seen. Purely unmissable.