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'Happy End' TIFF 2017 Review: Happiness is subjective in Haneke's world

September 6, 2017Justin Waldman

Acclaimed French writer/director Michael Haneke returns with yet another family drama, but this time on a wider scale in Happy End.

Focusing on 12-year-old Eve (Fantine Harduin) and her father, Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz), this followup to Haneke's 2012 film, Amour, tells the story of the Laurent family — including Thomas' sister, Anne (Isabelle Huppert), and their father, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) — and the complications that arise after the three of them take Eve in, after Thomas' ex wife/Eve’s mother falls ill. As the family members begin unraveling each other's darkest secrets amid the dysfunction that ensues, some dark humor certainly helps alleviate the tension.

What makes Happy End so interesting, however, are the performances from its cast. While the obvious choice would be for the film to focus on Huppert's character, she allows Harduin and Kassovitz to seize the spotlight, and to genuinely shine. Admirers of Haneke’s work and French cinema in general will truly enjoy his newest film.

Happy End is receiving its North American premiere as part of TIFF 2017's Masters programme. Its runtime is 1 hr. 47 min.

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