Happy, Happy (Sykt lykkelig)

Critic rating:
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy
The peculiar and somewhat misguided story of two couples who move in next to one another in snowy Norway.
Starring: Agnes Kittelsen, Maibritt Saerens, Henrik Rafaelsen, Joachim Rafaelsen
Director: Anne Sewitsky
Running time: 1:28
Release: Opened Sep 23, 2011

Editorial Review

Neighbors offer a cold shoulder

By Ann Hornaday

Friday, Sep 23, 2011

The minute Elizabeth and Sigve (Maibritt Saerens and Henrik Rafaelsen) pull up to their snowy rural cottage and meet new neighbors Kaja and Eirik (Agnes Kittelsen and Joachim Rafaelsen), viewers know one couple will break up. Lonely and needy, the effusive Kaja begs the far cooler Elizabeth to blink her light if she feels like company. During the long Norwegian winter, boundaries are destined to be violated even between their sons, one of whom insists in treating the other - an adoptee from Africa - like a slave.

That strange story line is just one peculiarity of "Happy, Happy," which appropriates American cultural tropes like so many tourists ogling tchotchkes at the local bazaar. Punctuated by a presumably Norwegian quartet singing stiff renditions of country and blues songs, the whole endeavor drips with condescension and naivete.

First-time director Anne Sewitsky may intend "Happy, Happy" as a Chekhovian chamber piece or romantic bagatelle, but her smugness about racism - and her glib symbolic resolution of the conflicts she raises - suggests an ambition that far outstrips her ability, at least for now. That said, Kittelsen and Saerens deliver pungent twists on women scorned, each in her own way.

Contains brief profanity, nudity, smoking and adult themes.