Friday 16 November 2012

"Happy, Happy" (Guardian 16/11/12)

Happy, Happy (15) 85 mins ***

A prizewinner at last year’s Sundance, this offbeam relationship comedy sets out in territory that suggests a Scandinavian variant of TV’s Suburgatory, as an ultra-liberal, somewhat superior Danish couple move with their adopted African child to a snowy Norwegian backwater, piquing the interest of perky neighbours whose interests include hunting and homophobia. Nightly board games reveal differences not just between, but within, the couples; several guarded and complicated rounds of partner-swapping ensue. Its quirks – such as the blues harmony quartet deployed as on-screen musical punctuation – could easily have been omitted, but they’re typical of how director Anne Sewitsky keeps her mind open, and her performers get us caring about these characters, whichever way, and however clumsily, they happen to swing. Like Kaja (Agnes Kittelsen), the wide-eyed Madame Bovary at its heart, Happy, Happy starts out cartoonish and winds up oddly endearing. 

Happy, Happy opens in selected cinemas from today.

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