Review: ‘Happy End’

Good intentions don't always lead to desired consequences in "Happy End," the latest feature from Swedish theater and occasional film director Bjorn Runge ("Daybreak," "Mouth to Mouth").

Good intentions don’t always lead to desired consequences in “Happy End,” the latest feature from Swedish theater and occasional film director Bjorn Runge (“Daybreak,” “Mouth to Mouth”). A small web of interconnected stories that fans out around an eager mother’s difficult rapport with her thin-skinned artist son, the pic reps a typical slice of Scandinavian miserabilism, from its solid acting to its fairly straightforward aesthetic. Pic preemed at the recent San Sebastian fest and will be welcomed at other film events, though ever-after happiness is likeliest on the Euro tube.

Widowed driving-school instructor Jonna (Runge regular Ann Petren) takes her grown-up son, Peter (Gustaf Skarsgard, Alexander’s brother), back in after he suffers a breakdown and is abandoned by his pretty g.f. (Hanna Malmberg). Back home, the still-fragile painter falls for pretty Katrine (Malin Buska), Jonna’s cleaner, who is herself involved in an abusive relationship with her b.f. (Johan Widerberg), who owes money to a thug (David Dencik). Visually more straightforward than “Mouth to Mouth,” this depressing crisscrosser does feature one attention-grabbing sequence: a slow zoom that reveals ace thesp Skarsgard’s face as he asks Katrine an important question.

Happy End



A Nordisk Film release of a Zentropa Intl. Sweden, Trollhattan Film presentation and production. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Madeleine Ekman. Directed by Bjorn Runge. Screenplay, Runge, Kim Fupz Aakesen.


Camera (color), Ulf Brantas; editor, Lena Runge; music, Ebba Forsberg; production designer, Jette Lehman; costume designer, Anna Karlsson. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (competing), Sept. 20, 2011. Running time: 94 MIN.


Ann Petren, Malin Buska, Gustaf Skarsgard, Johan Widerberg, David Dencik, Mariah Kanninen, Hanna Malmberg.

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