"Overcome By Comical Irony"
HAPPY, HAPPY is an acclaimed Norwegian comedy about a happy woman who’s finding less and less joy in her marriage and family, then finds out her husband is homosexual when she has an affair with their new next door neighbor. There’s some overt Christian content in this movie that points the way to salvation and away from sin, but the movie’s often ironic, sometimes ambiguous tone leads to an ultimately unsatisfying open ending.
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.
(RoRoRo, PCPC, CC, HoHo, L, V, SS, NNN, AA, DD, MM) Very strong implied Romantic, somewhat politically correct worldview with some overtly positive Christian content, especially a touching rendition of “Amazing Grace” during the story and a final jaunty version of a hymn over the end credits, plus overt homosexual references that add to the dominant objectionable worldview; four obscenities, two strong profanities, one light exclamatory profanity; light violence includes amateur wrestling shown on TV, fighting, boy’s face dumped into rice pudding, and white boy form Norway pretends to be whipping black boy from Ethiopia as they play slave; depicted adulterous fornication, implied adulterous fornication, implied oral sex, and depicted marital sex; full male nudity as married man chases married woman in the snow; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and references to marijuana; and, white boy form Norway convinces shy black Ethiopian boy to play master and slave, lying, man grumbles briefly about having to sing in church choir but seems to enjoy doing it after he joins, and a somewhat perplexing ironic tone.
HAPPY, HAPPY is an acclaimed, but problematic Norwegian comedy. The story begins in rural Norway in the heart of winter, but before Christmas. Kaya 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 is 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. One night, however, Kaya begins a torrid affair with Sigve. What happens next is surprising.
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.