From left, Fantine Harduin, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert, Laura Verlinden, Toby Jones and Mathieu Kassovitz in “Happy End,” directed by Michael Haneke. Credit Sony Pictures Classics

From left, Fantine Harduin, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert, Laura Verlinden, Toby Jones and Mathieu Kassovitz in “Happy End,” directed by Michael Haneke. Credit Sony Pictures Classics

A drama about a family set in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop.

Peter Travers on ‘Happy End’: Yes, That Title Is Ironic

Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke has made many a masterpiece – and his latest, Happy End, isn’t one of them. Yet this cinematic poke in the eye about an upper class family imploding still exerts a perverse fascination. From early provocations like The Seventh Continent (1989) through later boundary-pushing works like The Piano Teacher, Cache, The White Ribbon, Funny Games (both the original and it’s English-language remake) and Amour, the fillmaker specializes in the toxic indifference that can kill a family or society as a whole. He offers no easy answers. As the man himself once said: “My films are intended as polemical statements against the American ‘barrel down’ cinema and its dis-empowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent questions instead of false (because too quick) answers, for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness, for provocation and dialogue instead of consumption and consensus.” Read more

In ‘Happy End,’ Another Unhappy Family From Michael Haneke

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If you are even only a little familiar with the work of the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, it will come as no surprise that he does not regard instant messaging and smartphones as positive developments for humanity. His latest picture, “Happy End,” begins with the middle of its wide-screen frame taken up by the perfectly centered image of a phone, its camera eavesdropping on a middle-age woman whose bathroom door is open as she prepares for bed. The unseen voyeur texts snide commentary on the woman’s routine. Read more

Michael Haneke Makes Snapchat Scary in Happy End

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God bless whoever introduced Michael Haneke to Snapchat. In Happy End, the notoriously misanthropic director returns to the familiar territory of media-obsessed teens, this time a smartphone-wielding 13-year-old named Eve (Fantine Harduin). Read more

Happy End review – Michael Haneke’s satanic soap opera of pure sociopathy

It hardly needs saying that the adjective in the title is about as accurate as the one in Haneke’s Funny Games. Happy End is a satirical nightmare of haute-bourgeois European prosperity: as stark, brilliant and unforgiving as a halogen light. It is not a new direction for this film-maker, admittedly, but an existing direction pursued with the same inspiration as ever. It is also as gripping as a satanically inspired soap opera, a dynasty of lost souls. Read more

Happy End review – gallows humour for all the family

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Michael Haneke’s new film gleams with cold gallows humour. There’s blunt, rasping comedy to be found in its thematic grimness (Happy End might also be titled Death Wish), though the Austrian director’s bleak worldview won’t be to everyone’s taste. The plot begins with 13 year-old Eve (Fantine Harduin), who is forced to stay with her father Thomas (Mathieu  Kassovitz), in Calais, with his new wife and their young child after her mother overdoses. Also living in the Laurent family home is Thomas’s sister, severe real estate developer Anne (Isabelle Huppert), and their depressed father Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant of Haneke’s Amour), who at a robust 84 is “too healthy” to qualify for the assisted suicide he seeks, and so must make alternative arrangements. Read more