Overcome By Comical Irony
Release Date: September 16, 2011
Starring: Agnes Kittelsen, Joachim
Rafaelsen, Maibritt Saerens,
Henrik Rafaelsen, Ram Shihab
Ebedy, Oskar Henræs Brandsø
Runtime: 88 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Director: Anne Sewitzky
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Symnøve Hørsdal
Writer: Anne Sewitzky
Address Comments To:Bill Banowski, CEO, Magnolia Pictures (Magnet Releasing)
1614 West 5th St.
Austin, TX 78703
Eamon Bowles, President, Magnolia Pictures (Magnet Releasing)
43 West 27th St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 924-6701; Fax: (212) 924-6742
Website: www.magpictures.com; Email: info@ magpictures.com
The story begins in rural Norway in the heart of winter, but before Christmas. Kaja (Kaya in English) loves her husband, Eirik, and their son, Theodor, but Eirik hasn’t been intimate with Kaya for a year. He also goes away for almost week-long hunting trips. Even worse, he’s starting to turn their son away from her.
Into this sad relationship come two new neighbors, Elizabeth and Sigve. The new couple, with their adopted Ethiopian son, Noa, is renting the house next door from Kaya and Eirik.
Kaya thinks Elizabeth and Sigve are the perfect couple, but then Elizabeth admits they moved to the country because she had an affair in the city. Kaya encourages Elizabeth and Sigve to joint the local church choir. They do, and Elizabeth encourages Kaya to join them.
One night, however, Kaya begins a torrid affair with Sigve. Her son soon finds out and is ashamed. Then, viewers learn that Eirik is actually homosexual. Hence, the phony hunting trips and lack of intimacy with Kaya. Like Kaya, he also likes Sigve and tries to kiss him, but Sigve turns him away.
Eventually, Elizabeth finds out about the affair with Kaya, Sigve moves in with Kaya, and Eirik sleeps out in a wooden hut he’s built outside. What happens next is surprising.
HAPPY, HAPPY is definitely well made. There’s even some positive Christian content, which includes a sort of Greek chorus of four male singers performing lively a capella hymns. The best part is when Kaya sings a beautiful but halting solo of “Amazing Grace” at the Christmas concert. Sadly, however, the movie doesn’t take full advantage of this redemptive content by having a Christian ending. [SPOILER ALERT] In the end, although Sigve reunites with his wife, Kaya and Eirik realize they can’t reconcile because Eirik doesn’t want to stop being homosexual. So, when Sigbe and Elizabeth move back to the city, he moves into the house next door. The end.
The lack of a Christian, fully redemptive ending in HAPPY, HAPPY is emphasized by the movie’s ironic humorous tone. Also, it’s clear that the filmmakers wanted to avoid clear meanings, so their movie contains some frustrating art-house, foreign ambiguity. In fact, it could be argued that Kaya’s adulterous affair brought things out in the open and helped repair some of the problems in the relationships between these two married couples. Thus, according to the movie, although her husband’s homosexuality cannot be changed, and they must separate, Kaya and Eirik seem to become happier now that he’s decided to move next door. And, Kaya is finally free to repair and improve her relationship with their son too.
These last lessons are probably indeed part of what the movie’s trying to say, but it’s still open to interpretation. In fact, in interviews and her director’s statement, the movie’s director indicates that the message most resonating with her is the idea that being a happy person, like Kaya is, cannot solve all one’s problems. Along with this message, the movie also seems to be saying that relationship problems are better resolved when people bring the problems out into the open rather than keeping them hidden. This fits in with the movie’s apparent left-wing and antinomian (or lawless) attitude toward homosexuality. In fact, judged as a whole, HAPPY, HAPPY ultimately seems to be just another in a long line of liberal lawless movies about Christianity and morality. It’s more ambiguous than didactic, however, so it only rates a Minus Three rather than a Minus Four. Christians and those who are honestly seeking God’s truth may find themselves recognizing, at least by the scene with “Amazing Grace,” that Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to all our problems. The fact that Kaya’s adultery clearly brings pain to everyone eventually also is another positive aspect to HAPPY, HAPPY.
“The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!”
- Jesus Christ, Mark 1:15.
HAPPY, HAPPY is well made, with solid acting. There is even some positive Christian content, including a touching rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Kaya, the main character. However, the movie also contains excessive lewd content. Finally, an ironic tone pervades HAPPY, HAPPY, which dilutes the power and possible positive meaning of the movie’s Christian content.