26 February 2010 | ruby_fff
Terribly Happy - A Fine & Mellow Productions of a terribly dark comedy - hopelessly helplessly so
Did I say comedy? You certainly wouldn't feel that it is until you walk out of the theater and just might break into a smile, realizing how funny 'Terribly Happy' it all is. That's rather brilliant of the screenplay and direction. It's 'Fine & Mellow' productions, ha, indeed. This Danish dark comedy may not be everyone's cup of tea - there are terrible things happening throughout the movie that are not pleasing by normal social standards: mysterious disappearance of persons, deaths (or murders?), battered wife, neglected child, child striker and wife beater, imposing town bully, neighbors who are in the know and do nothing to help (so it seems). It's an uncomfortable community of a small rural town to find oneself in. Well, that's where Robert got dropped off at the beginning of the story.
The plot thickens as you watch our central character, Robert Hanson (played by Jakob Cedergren, convincingly deadpan), a city cop from Copenhagen 'banished for atonement' to Skarrild, a small provincial town with an ill-fated cow with two-heads legend as we, the viewers, are informed at the very onset of the film. "The following is based on a true story" flashed on screen in passing. We're introduced to our town flirt furtively disturbed, Mrs. Ingelise Buhl (played by Lene Maria Christensen, appealingly oversexed). The town bully and constant drunk in his cowboy hat, Jørgen Buhl (played by Kim Bodnia, menacingly ill-natured). And the cast of the key townsfolk: the doctor - Dr. Zerlang (played by Lars Brygmann, calculatingly all-knowing), the card game players including the general store owner, and the bar regulars, the lady bartender, not forgetting the lady hairdresser, and little Dorthe, Ingelise's daughter (played by Mathilde Maack in silent plight), who often pushes her pram with squeaky foreboding noise on the streets of Skarrild. Yes, all sorts of predicament and dilemma Robert very soon discovers, yet half-truth, never fully revealed by the townsfolk or party involved, let alone the doctor, who may very well be the town mayor discreet, holding all the cards (a literal pun). Secrets, more back-story continuously unraveling.
Writer-director Henrik Ruben Genz, based on the novel by his childhood friend, Erling Jepsen (a best-selling Danish author), delivered a noir thriller in dark comedy form all at once. Sheer talent! The film title is unquestionably befitting. It could be: How to deal with a town bully? Or: How to get your ideal town marshal? 'Terribly Happy' - the two choice words together simply take the cake. (A climatic sequence definitely did justice to the 'happy' and the 'terrifyingly tense' moments simultaneously experienced). "Terribly Happy" indisputably worth your while. Hopelessly helplessly with quiet glee. After all, it's a fine and mellow Skarrild community, why wouldn't Robert want to hang around and be their perfect marshal?
Note: Director Genz's statement and interview, author Jepsen's statement, can be viewed from the Press Kit accessible online at "oscilloscope.net/shop/view_film.php?ID=18&r=gallery"