After winning the palme d’or and the academy award for best foreign language movie for his harrowing heartbreakig study of old age amour michael haneke returs to cannes competition five years later with a much milder drama that is likely to divide audiences. Happy end leads the viewer by the hand inside the home of a wealthy family of monsters the laurents who have made their fortune with a french construction firm that is now on the rocks. If the story sounds familar its because it been done many times before though hanekes masterful eruo gothic touch and a reiveting cast headlined by isabelle huppert and jean louis trintignant give it a modernist update and a note of black humor.
For hanekes longtime admirers it will come as no surprise to learn there are no happy endings ahead for the laurent clan. let it also be said however that nothing so grim as the climatic group suicide of the seventh continent 1989 awaits them either although the downbeat implication remains that malcontent europeans might be better off dead than living in such a screwed up words as this. But then not sending their little girl to get rabies shots when she bitten by the watchdog the problem is that its all of the above a general social malaise involving the upper class the lower class and the new outcasts the african migrants stuck in europe dreaming of a better life. Not by chance is the story set in calais home of the infamous nigrant jungle.
Another consideration is that by casting the aged trintignant as the retired patriarch whose wife has died under the same circumstances as emmanuelle rivas character in amour, and adding the fact that his name is georges and his daughter is played by isabelle huppert, Haneke strongly suggests that this is to be read as some kind of sequal to amour. It answers the question about whether georges died with his wife at the end of that movie. In this scenario he didnt but surely wishes he had considering the family he forced to live with. His mind is also going and he confined to a wheelchair. The singleminded desire of trintignants amusingly feisty odl timer is to commit sucide any way he can whomever he has to involve to do it be it his barber migrants on the street or a child.
Happy End a Wealthy French Family Led by Iron Matriarch Isabelle Huppert,