Happy, Too Happy

"Happy, Too Happy," which explores the bittersweet high jinks of a coed group of hormone-addled high school classmates, is a well-made, convincingly acted slice of Gallic life that has virtually no prospects beyond French borders. Recipient of the 1994 Jean Vigo Prize is almost certain to appear rambling and pointless to offshore auds.

With:
Valerie ... Estelle Perron Mathilde ... Caroline Trousselard Kamel ... Malek Bechar Didier ... Didier Borga

“Happy, Too Happy,” which explores the bittersweet high jinks of a coed group of hormone-addled high school classmates, is a well-made, convincingly acted slice of Gallic life that has virtually no prospects beyond French borders. Recipient of the 1994 Jean Vigo Prize is almost certain to appear rambling and pointless to offshore auds.

Pic began as an episode of 12-segment French miniseries “Tous les garcons et les filles de leur age,” in which a dozen helmers conjure a tale from their adolescent years with the only requirement being a party scene with music in order to anchor the era in song.

(Olivier Assayas’ “L’Eau froide” and Andre Techine’s “Les Roseaux sauvages,” at Cannes in Un Certain Regard, also figure in the series.)

In a dinky town in the sun-drenched Midi, popular, attractive Valerie has been expelled from high school just a few weeks before final exams. Her girlfriend Mathilde lusts after dopey blond Didier, whose good pal Kamel is stuck on Valerie. In the course of one alcohol-soaked evening, a romantic alliance is consummated that permanently alters the group dynamic.

Slangy, realistic dialogue is full of boast and banter about sex. Pic touches on anti-Arab discrimination via three characters who are the children of Algerian immigrants.

Pic has the sustained energy of kids goofing off on the cusp of adult responsibilities, and ensemble cast of newcomers is fine throughout.

Happy, Too Happy

(FRENCH)

Production: A Cine Classic release of a La Sept/Arte, IMA Prods., SFP Prods. co-production with the participation of Sony Music Entertainment (France). Produced by Georges Benayoun and Paul Rozenberg. Co-executive producers, Francoise Guglielmi, Elisabeth Deviosse. Directed by Cedric Kahn. Screenplay, Ismael Ferroukhi, Kahn.

Crew: Camera (Fujicolor), Antoine Roch; editors, Yann Dedet, Nathalie Hubert; set design, Philippe Combastel; sound (mono), Stephane Thiebaut , Jean-Paul Loublier; associate producer, Chantal Poupaud; assistant director, Aude Cathelin; casting, Antoine Carrard. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Cinemas en France), May 16, 1994. Running time: 84 MIN.

With: Valerie ... Estelle Perron Mathilde ... Caroline Trousselard Kamel ... Malek Bechar Didier ... Didier BorgaWith: Naguime Bendidi, Salah Bouchouareb, Laetitia Palermo, Emmanuel Gautier.

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