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  • If you are a lover of good performances and simple histories, this is a real must-see movie. It is a very sad history, but in the same time it is real history that maybe happens all days in different parts of the world. The promising debut of Manuela Martelli open a new era in latinamerica actresses, she supports almost perfect the movie on her shoulders with a unique charisma not seen in a chilean actress for many years. The movie fits perfect in Manuela, her baby face and sometimes inexpressive way of acting are the perfect combination for a terrible but powerful history. Her performance is brilliant, and i am sure that she will be a important cinestar very soon.
  • Director Gonzalo Justiniano's "B-Happy", along with "Machuca" (2004) proves that Chile can compete with Argentina's new wave and avant-garde cinema, though the latter is getting most of the worldwide recognition now.

    "B-Happy", whose title is taken from an English phrase written on the blackboard in the lead character's classroom, tells the bleak story of Katty, whose family slowly abandon hers forcing her to rely on her own wits. The movie's narration, never losing focus from the lead character, is completely devoid of any sentimentality and is matter-of-factly and bluntly told in a series of vignettes, which resemble visual postcards. Kathy's father is incarcerated and her mother works in the general store. We get the feeling that Katty doesn't know her father that well, but in a moving scene he proudly relates the history--and resilience--of the family name.

    The movie's bleakness is punctuated by the barren Chilean landscape which could substitute as a visual metaphor for the quiet desperation which young fifteen year old Katty must feel. The cinematography is stunningly impressive. Actress Manuela Martelli (Katty) portrays her character's suffering stoicly, with little emoting--her repeated mantra to the world is: "I'm not afraid of anything". She approaches each unpleasant event she is forced to contend with in the same detached, stoic manner. One scene which sticks with me ends with Katty sitting catatonic contemplates her bleak and worsening situation with a sad resignation. Unlike the character Maria for example, in "Maria, Full of Grace" she lacks any kind of carisma or inner conflict about what she does--in fact, she seems to embrace it, with gusto. She eventually must take drastic steps in order to survive, because, as she notes in one scene where she loses her virginity, "The only thing you can control is your first one". Katty is repeatedly victimized by a cruel system and society's unscrupulous, though she soon proves she is anything but a victim. One can't help but feel sympathy for her, but her Martelli's stoic characterization and the director's unique telling of the story-- (in short vignettes, some lasting less than 15 seconds)-- prevents the movie from turning into one cliché after another. Never once does she feels sorry for herself--the only sentimentality she allows herself is keeping a Polaroid taken of herself and her father, with a llama at the zoo. She wishes things could be different but they aren't, so she deals with the cards dealt her pragmatically, without allowing sentimentality to overcome her.

    The second part of the movie takes place in the Chilean port city of Valpariso, as Katty sets out on a quest to locate her father, and the movie takes a predictable course without really going anywhere--this is, after all a character study with distinct noirish elements, especially with the gritty Chilean port of Valpairiso featured prominently. A good companion piece to compare this picture with is Argentinian director Maria Victoria Menis' "Little Sky", "El Cielito" (2004)--just as bleak but with the same theme.
  • I didn't know this film at all, simply happened to walk in on it at a local film festival. And I was pleasantly surprised. The story is too predictable, and in the end it really leaves me indifferent if anybody gets to go to this sea port in the north (I forgot the name, but everybody is always talking about it. I guess it must be a Chilean thing). But Manuela Martelli, the lead actress, was amazing. Very powerful in her passivity, and even more so when passion breaks through occasionally. And I nearly fell off my chair when she took off her clothes. I don't know how old she is, but quite young I guess, and this was her first film ever. So we may be in for a lot of future viewing pleasure. But I hope she'll be able to do more than Chilean films, because those are not easily seen in Europe outside of world film festivals.
  • 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.
  • I really enjoyed this movie. It gives you a glimpse of the poor, rural and less known Chile. The actors in the movie are very credible and give you a sense of very "ordinary" people. I watched the movie in Spanish and even their accent/dialect feels genuine. Manuela Martelli (Kathy) has the power to absorb you completely in the story and her performance justifies well the various international awards for best actress. In the story you see Kathy as a very strong, independent woman who has learned not to fear anything. She repeatedly says in the movie "ya no le tengo miedo a nada" (I no longer fear anything) and she adds her unsettling/scary new experiences to her list of things she does not fear. She is a child forced to grow really fast and to face circumstances that will break many of us--yes she relies on her inner strength to overcome her circumstances. At the same time you are able to see Kathy's vulnerability and her longing for love and affection. This is a drama with strong scenes that at times made me uncomfortable--but nevertheless a very well done film.
  • This comment is for those movie people that have not try to watch a foreign film yet. This is a very good film from Gonzalo Justiniano. He brings a story that looks real, with real situation, and real characters. Characters that you have to give them a chance to show you that life is life as is. This might just be happening next door to you and you do not know it.

    Although the cinematography looks and feels like we are in a place where the sun rays hit differently, it hits you with a new fresh look at life. The real life we do not want to face sometimes.

    This movie has so many characters that each one of them give you a touch of life that makes it rich on the screen.

    I was able to enjoy this movie very, very, very much. Give this movie a chance. Give yourself a break into a new perspective in life. Real life is out there and Gonzalo Justiniano was able to put it on a film.

    Lorene Prieto(Kathy's mother) gives a powerful performance and Manuela Martelli (Kathy) is the greatest.

    Rent this movie. You will not be disappointed. Give real life a chance.

    Life is simple sometimes. But you have to live it.

    Cut! Print! That's a rap!
  • brayzlone20 October 2005
    Some times I don't follow these foreign films that well but I have to say that Manuela really played the part. I would love to see her in an American film......she can speak the whole movie in Spanish if she wants I don't care. She will grow up to be a fine woman and actress if she should continue with acting. Maybe it's me alone but what ever age she is at the time of the film she can portray a very mature young lady in the film. I'm glad that HBO showed B-Happy and I was able to view it in it's entirety. I don't know the language that well but if there were no sub-titles I probably could have followed the film very easily and understood it.
  • Justiniano gave us a real one this time. This movie is shocking, frightening, and sometimes depressing, but the main character Martelli (Kathy) is always looking, without any fear, the way to survive the tragedy that the life can be for someones. Located in Valparaiso, the landscape are beautiful and the different rural locations are just like Chile really is. The director gave us a realistic view of Valparaiso, not the glam side of the city, but the dark and gloomy part of the harbor, that Valparaiso is. This movie is a great opportunity to entrance to the chilean movies, and I think that this movie it's a must seen for every chilean. Because you can recognize and watch a very accurate point of view of the people of the lately '90.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is about a teenage girl named Katy (Manuela Martelli) who comes from a working class milieu in a small town in southern Chile and whose broken family includes a father that is in prison. Forced by circumstances to leave her home town, as she starts traveling through Chile, she slowly but steadily drifts towards a life of crime and prostitution. This might seem the most downbeat scenario imaginable, but thanks to the performance of pretty, petite Manuela Martelli (who is the complete center of the movie) this is a compelling, strangely upbeat film. She is so determined to defeat the odds against her that the audience is willing to stand by her and cheer her up, even if things seems to be getting worse every time. Recommended.
  • Have you noticed how do simple movies had have a huge impact on the audience this last time? Just Think about ELEPHANT, for example. Plain story, wonderfully worked, acted, directed and filmed: nothing else needed. When a movie is well crafted, and the emotional intentions are correctly delivered to the audience, the most plain, stick man-acted, midi-sound-tracked story can receive a 20 minutes stand up ovation on Cannes. This is a fact, ans it is one of the most actually used formats on contemporary films. But, B-Happy isn't just plain, like a valley covered on green moisturized grass, is a mud filled down sloped crater. It is a awfully bad directed story, as told by a 15 year old kid who grades an F on grammar. The image is not clean: between scenes, you can tell when it's gonna be changed by noticing a slight brightening on the picture, which is really disturbing for the viewer's eye. Manuela Martelli proves once again, that her fame as a good actress is, in fact, mysterious: she just accomplishes with saying the lines and walking through the set. This film doesn't reach for the viewer's heart, it has no genuine feeling, and stimulates the unfortunate sensation that Chilean Film Industry goes nowhere. For real Feelings on a Chilean movie, Try Silvio Caiozzi, Boris Quercia, Gregory Cohen, just to name some.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    So depressing! Unremitting sadness, scene after scene after scene.

    Actors were great. The little girl was charming. Scenes looked very realistic.

    As the film was very realistic, there was no safety net for this child. The only hope of feeding herself is to become a prostitute. She was a bright little girl doing what she could to get by. As she did not have sufficient education and no family, she had no other choice.

    I don't know who the audience would be for this film. Perhaps the filmmakers were making some kind of social commentary. At least I'm hoping that is what they were trying to do. As it is, this film is unremittingly grim with no hope in sight. See it at your own peril.

    I wish someone would have warned me away from this film.