Directed by: Henrik Ruben Genz Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, Kim Bodnia Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: Unrated
COMPLETE COVERAGE - 33rd Portland International Film Festival Country: Denmark
PLOT: Robert (Cedergren) is a Copenhagen cop who gets transferred to a small, strange Danish village where the locals like to keep to themselves. Robert starts to investigate an abusive husband, which leads to many problems, with the entire town watching every move.
WHO'S IT FOR? This film has a "Twin Peaks" or maybe an early Coen Brothers vibe to it all. There's some great dry humor and some poor decisions made along the way.
It's my favorite foreign film of 2009. No, I haven't seen them all. Not even close. I knew nothing except the title (Terribly Happy) and the country (Denmark). As you probably know, that's the way I like it.
The first 20 minutes of the film could be a comedy, a love story, a thriller or just a version of "Northern Exposure." The music brings to mind the beginning of "The Office" (BBC, not U.S.). Director Henrik Ruben Genz creates such a full and focused world (or in this case, town) that I was simply sitting back and engaged. There are noir vibes that begin to scream through this film. We begin to learn that even though Robert seems to be the most normal man around, he has some demons of his own that he is trying to shake. It doesn't help that Ingelise (Lene Maria Christensen) is throwing herself at him, plus, she's full of crazy. It's hard to understand why Robert would tolerate, or even appreciate Ingelise. Again, we eventually realize Robert isn't perfect. I'll leave it at that.
It's a little too easy to say, but the town is the best character in the film. The store where Robert must deal with a shoplifting kid, the little girl walking at night, the card game between the town leaders and most importantly ... the bog. For 1.5 hours you can't think of anything else, and you're lost on this odd journey with Robert, even though some of his choices will kill you. There's also one of the oddest alcohol drinking showdowns that this film could almost sneak into my TOP 7 Drinking (Beer/Wine/Alcohol) Movies. To top it all off, the film comes together for a perfect ending. Not enough people will see this film. That's a shame. It made me terribly happy.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10