Happinessi is the story of a family, in the very long tradion of family sagas. It's broken into pieces according to the mores and habits of the time, but once reconstructed it goes something like : The patriarch no longer wants anything to do with his wife. He's just sick of her, generally and unspecifically. There's an old whore circling him, but he's not actually interested. He's just old, and thoroughly disgusted of the world, and can't be bothered anymore. He had three daughters. One's an idiot. The other's an idiot. The third's also an idiot.
One of the three idiots is very sexy, and very conceited. Just as she enjoys a moment of clarity with herself and loudly admits all this, the phone rings - a very beta male tells her the exact same. She is his, instantly, smitten. Then they meet and well ... it doesn't work out. You should see the perfect embodiment of the beta in Hoffman's hands to really feel just how inadequate inadequate males are. That same fellow later has an ambiguous altercation with an overweight neighbour who also cut the doorman to bits and preserved parts of the carcass in her freezer.
The other idiot is a very housewife. She has everything : two children, one of which inadequate, the other still young. A husband that loves her but only fucks her after fucking little boys. She is very obedient and pleasant to him in bed, she tries her best to parent, and to gossip with her sister, but ... well ... Maybe in the next life.
The last idiot is a very borderline sleeve. She breaks up with her sexy sister's auditorial flame at the beginning of the movie, but that's ok, she gets set up with him at the end. She also gets entangled with a Russian cab driver, who keeps a very tidy Russian style house, complete with aggressive, beaten, blonde wife - very obedient, very well trained, and yet... - that serves the mistress just as she screams obscenities at both.
The scene where the serial rapist is questioned by his preteen son is worth anything. Both participants handle it superbly, and are for this and no further needed reason great actors. In writ :
BILL Yes, Billy?
BILLY Everyone at school is saying things about you.
BILL Who is everyone?
BILLY Kids. You know. Everyone.
BILL What are they saying?
BILLY That you're a serial rapist.
BILLY And a pervert.
BILL You mean, like what they painted on the house?
BILLY Dad... did you... did you... with Johnny Grasso and Ronald Farber... ?
BILLY What did you... do?
BILL I... I touched them...
BILLY Whadya mean exactly... touched... ?
BILL I... fondled them.
BILLY What for?
BILL I couldn't help myself.
BILLY What else?
BILL I unzipped myself...
BILLY Do you mean... masturbated?
BILLY Then... what?
BILL I... made love...
BILLY What does that... mean?
BILL I fucked them.
BILLY What was it like?
BILL It was... great.
BILLY Would you do it again?
BILLY Would you ever fuck me?
BILL I jerk off instead.
The film certainly dares. While I remain unpersuaded of the veracity of this particular sceneii, the many others are deeply correct. Take for instance the seduction of the borderline by the Russian. He is playing the exact book of Russian lovemaking ; and she goes under like a chicken before the steamroller. Because yes, the 36 yo American girl is exactly indistinguishable from the Russian maiden, 7th to maaaaaybe 11th grade. Half that age. Similarly the beta creep, on the couch, it activates the feared receptors in the audience.
Altogether an excellent film. Ideally to be seen with an adult lover for balance, it's... un peu fort on its own.———
- 1998, by Todd Solondz, with Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rufus Read. [↩]
- Because what the fuck do you mean "great" ? It's not great, it's miserable, at best.
But then again - that's strictly true about fucking a woman's stockings, miserable at best. The definition of perversity is exactly this, right ? The pervert thinks the miserable at best is actually great.
Perhaps. To borrow a word, the reproach seems somewhat too round. [↩]