“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.