5 April 2005 | jotix100
Don't worry, be happy!
Gonzalo Justiniano, the director of "B-Happy" shows he has an eye to capture ordinary people in their natural habitat, as he demonstrates with this feature. He works in a sort of episodic way as most of the scenes end in a black dissolve. This choppy way for the narrative is the only thing that doesn't make the film flow more freely, but as a character study, we are shown real people going through a life that has not been kind to them.
At the center of the story we see young Kathy. Living in the country side, this young woman must commute to her school every day. Her mother works for the local general store and her brother doesn't seem to be any help to either woman. The father, we find out, is in prison. We see both mother and daughter, who seems not to know her own father, pay him a visit in the Valparaiso jail where he is serving time.
When the father returns, he proves to be no help to his wife and Kathy. He goes back to his bad ways. The only positive thing for the young girl is her school. The kind teacher, who is married to the grocer, holds Kathy in high regard. The arrival of Chemo, the handsome young man who befriends Kathy works wonders for her. Suddenly she feels being wanted and accepted. Chemo's ambition is to go north to Arica, a town that seems to hold a special allure in his imagination.
Things don't go too well for Kathy. She witnesses her family disintegrate in front of her eyes. This is when reality sets in. It's clear that Kathy must leave town in order to get a better life, but bad breaks follow her when she arrives in Valparaiso. The only kind person to her is the transvestite that lives on a boat in the harbor, but alas, the friendship is not a lasting one. Finally we see as Kathy is at the bus station buying a ticket to Arica, where one is to expect she finds a better life.
Manuela Martelli makes an incredible Kathy. She is in almost every frame of the film. Her face registers all what is going inside herself. An excellent performance by this young actress. Also good, Eduardo Barril as the good for nothing father. Lorena Prieto is the mother. Juan Pablo Saez plays Nina and Ricardo Fernandez is Chemo, the young man who inspires Kathy to flee her surroundings.