Happiness (1998)

10/10 – Grilled Seal of Approval


Wow. By far the greatest movie ever made about pedophilia (I’m assuming, it’s not like I specifically set out to watch movies about pedophilia [although I did just see Hard Candy as well…]). Incredibly dark and disturbing, but god damn is it funny. This is black black black comedy at its finest. A world so cruel and bizarre and amazing that it stops being a story and transforms into a horribly realistic portrayal of dysfunction.

Stunning work, but also (obviously) not for all tastes. I held Happiness on my hard drive for months and months without ever finding the time when I wanted to watch it. Sometimes that happens. But I am writing an article for VIBE about the ten films to not watch on Valentine’s Day, so I’ve been trying to track down some bizarre choices (hence the recent spat of pedo flicks). I am glad I did.

Every once in a while you watch a film and completely lose yourself inside its brilliance. You sort of marvel to yourself at the joy this little thing, this little film, has produced inside you. It’s always a wonderful feeling – and always welcome. An incredible film like 12 Angry Men is an impressive entry into the Temple of Cinema, but I never lost myself within its confines. It’s wonderful, but I didn’t connect with it as I did with Happiness or Tokyo Fist or 56 Up or Pink Flamingos or any other number of amazing films I have recently seen.

Part of that reaction is a result of surprise. You can’t completely lose yourself inside the film if you already know the ending or how the characters will act. And I was surprised by Happiness. The tone of the film, the situations, the characters – oh, sometimes it hurts to consume something so delicious and wonderful because part of you knows you will never get that exact feeling again. There may be other moments of pure, unadulterated bliss, but in this moment, with this film, in this place – no, never again. Just the once.

This film isn’t for everyone (definitely not for the easily offended), but what a remarkable moment! Perhaps it can be your moment as well.

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