Michael Haneke’s portrait of a dysfunctional bourgeois Calais family offers a potted summary – and bracingly intelligent, partly satirical update – on themes from his previous films.
Dir-Scr Michael Haneke
Prod Margaret Ménégoz
With Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Fantine Harduin, Franz Rogowski, Toby Jones
UK Distribution Curzon Artificial Eye
Michael Haneke ingeniously reworks and updates the enduringly relevant themes of all his previous films in one brief, brilliant, sometimes slyly satirical gem. Though set in Calais, Happy End never shows ‘the Jungle’, focusing instead on a construction dynasty seemingly blind to the unfortunates across town. Anne (Huppert) oversees the business now that her embittered father Georges (Trintignant) is unable to cope; her doctor brother Thomas (Kassovitz), meanwhile, is getting reacquainted with his teenage daughter since his ex-wife’s overdose. Indeed, everyone in the family seems frustrated or lonely… Haneke’s dark, sardonic yet quietly compassionate picture of contemporary life as experienced by complacently well-off Europeans is as formally inventive, morally relevant and psychologically astute as ever, yet its wholly compelling drama is here leavened by bracing moments of absurdist humour. The refugees and poor? Seldom seen, constantly there… Superbly performed, this is formidably intelligent filmmaking.