14 July 2010 | dfwforeignbuff
After Viewing I was not Terribly Impressed.
Terribly Happy (Frygtelig lykkelig) This Danish Noir Crime film was one of the nominees for best Oscar foreign film 2009 83rd Oscars. It did not win. It is based on the novel by Erling Jepsen. This dark & quirky crime story is set set in a small rural Danish village called Skarrild a town that hides as many secrets as the nearby bog. This Locale is in the only part of Denmark that actually has land adjoining Europe. (the rest are islands) Skarrild South Jutland area is a boggy low lying area north of Germany where the water level is very low. Robert (Jakob Cedergren) has a troubled past in Copenhagen & is re-assigned to a remote Danish town, where he is quickly embroiled in its odd business. Essentially the story of a policeman working punishment duty in the provinces. This dark comedy is reminiscence of Fargo & subject matter is racy with child abuse murder abuse of power wife beating drinking drugs etc. The film is effective, & has a unique feel, though at times it is hodgepodge of genres & stylistic borrowings. The plot (& characters) felt flat & lifeless. The film just did not have the artistic hook that really grabbed me. (Compared to films by fellow Finland director Aki Kaurismaki) The film dour & deadpan film noir but it just did not involve excite or intrigue me. All told heart the film plays like a classic Western: the frontier town, the local bad man, the new marshal, the townspeople, the cute & vulnerable heroine, Ingelise. I hate westerns. Or is this a horror movie?? No is not a horror movie but a comic, ironic witty, well constructed psychological thriller. It still did not make on impression on me. As the story narrows into an increasingly desperate cat-&-mouse game played by Robert & Jorgen following a lethal accident, "Terribly Happy" becomes an allegory of human frailty & corruption, of loneliness & the need to belong. If that makes the movie sound depressingly weighty IT IS. How far will you go to have a sense of belonging? 3 stars