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copyright ©1999-2000

flick pick | Happiness 1998
Directed by: Todd Solondz
Starring: Jane Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Cynthia Stevenson, Camryn Manheim
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
New Arrivals, Drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
disturbing, darkly comic, serious

Plot synopsis The multiple story lines that make up Happiness center around a group of suburban New Jerseyites, loosely connected through their relationships with three sisters. Joy [get the irony?] is a hapless flake of a woman who seems to instinctively seek out relationships with men who treat her like an old doormat. Helen is a successful writer who oozes affected sophistication and is prone to lengthy shallow self-analysis. She hides her deep self-loathing behind a polished façade that’s temporarily broken-down when her obese, social misfit of a neighbor bestows upon her one of his chillingly sadistic obscene phone calls. Meanwhile Trish, the ever-smiling mother and housewife, shakes her head sadly at the poor, pathetic lives of those she knows while oblivious to the fact that her loving psychiatrist husband lusts after pre-pubescent boys.

Review Happiness is not for the fainthearted. Pedophilia, child molestation, hints of incest, rape, murder, sadistic sexual fantasy … name your perversion, and it’s probably represented in some form or another in this film. And oh yeah, and did I mention this is a comedy of sorts? What’s amazing about Happiness is that despite its cringe-inducingly repellent subject matter, it thoroughly draws the viewer into its various storylines. You find yourself simultaneously revolted and fascinated by the incredibly complex characters that Solondz and his uniformly excellent actors have created. Happiness is sad and funny, horrifying and riveting … in short, all-around brilliant movie-making.



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