Happy End

Happy End

In Theatres: 
Feb 16, 2018
Running Time: 
107 minutes

Contrary to what the title may suggest, Michael Haneke’s Happy End is a pretty dismal film tonally. It centers around the Laurent family and the chaotic dysfunction that seems to follow every single member. Like the majority of Haneke’s films, Happy End can be difficult to digest with its darker portrayal of human nature. It’s a film that’s well worth watching, but one you’re probably not going to want to see more than once.


Following the hospitalization of her mother, Eve Laurent (Fantine Harduin) is sent to live with her estranged father Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and her extended family. They’re all having problems of their own as well since a work accident at the family business has wrapped them up in a lawsuit, not to mention the patriarch of the family, Georges Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant), has continually declined in health. The only one who seems to have it together is Anne Laurent (Isabelle Huppert), who now runs the company, but there is only so much the family can take before all their problems spill out for the world to see.


Happy End is very much a slow burn as it’s not immediately apparent what is going on in the beginning of the film. Bits and pieces of information leak out of family dinner table conversations and arguments further along reveal the darker truths each Laurent hides from everyone else. I was a little bored in the beginning but the further along the film went the more intrigued I became. It helps that the cinematography and camera work is wonderful, too. There are plenty of long takes that at first glance seem to focus on mundane things like packing a suitcase or walking from point A to point B, but Haneke directs it in such a way that everything feels like it has purpose. Some shots will make you feel super uncomfortable, while others can break the tension. As depressing as the film may be, it’s at least interesting to watch it all unfold.


Michael Haneke can be very hit and miss, and fortunately Happy End is mostly hits, despite following many of the same themes of his previous work. It’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of his style, and even if you’re new to him as well. Just be sure you’re able to stomach a little darkness.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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