This time, the double Palme d’Or winner responsible for some of the most distressing films of the past 20 years, such as Funny Games and The White Ribbon, lets you off a little easier. Although bear in mind that Haneke’s version of a happy end is one that will leave you merely deeply troubled rather than utterly distraught. The film is a sort of hellish soap opera, in which an affluent French family lurches from strife to misery, with each member clutched by personal demons and crippled by neuroses. But while every character’s trouble is painfully plausible, the film feels numb and disconnected, complete with disorientating time leaps. Happy End, unusually ungarlanded for a Haneke film, was criticised in Cannes for re-hashing his old tropes – secretly filmed home videos, deadening blank scenes shattered by a sudden stab of violence – but these are compelling motifs, and this wizened Austrian is a master of them.
Happy End | Directed by Michael Haneke (France, Germany, Austria 2017), with Isabelle Huppert, Jean Louis Trintignant, Starts Oct 12.
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