Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frygtelig lykkelig (Terribly Happy) (2008)

Following a disturbing personal incident (of which you don’t learn details right away), policeman Robert (Jakob Cedergren) is relocated from Copenhagen to small town Skarrild as punishment. The insular town folk behave as if they are keeping a secret from Robert. Terribly Happy

The situation escalates after Robert meets Ingerlise (Lene Maria Christensen), a tormented woman in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic psychopath. Ingerlise and Robert’s attraction is palpable, but Robert tries to keep it professional. As he discovers, Skarrild has a code: They solve their issues without the interference of law enforcement.

At times, Frygtelig lykkelig plays like a Western, as Robert and cowboy-hat-wearing Jørgen (Kim Bodnia), Ingerlise’s husband, go head to head. As we learn what Robert is capable of, this psychological thriller keeps peeling back the layers. You see in detail the disturbing cycle of physical violence in an abusive relationship. There is an especially chilling scene where Ingerlise goes back to Jørgen; her expression during this moment is haunting.

Good versus bad is upturned. The odd characters are hiding  cemeteries in their closets. The movie’s tone toys with your subconscious moral code, creating a discomfort, yet, you remain engaged. It hooks you with one disaster spiraling into the next. It’s like this: Picture you are being chauffeured by a driver who starts recklessly maneuvering. You suddenly don’t trust him, but it’s too late—he’s doing 100 in a 70. He starts laughing and announces that the brakes aren’t working. You are there, you are alert, you are his.

Writer/Director: Henrik Ruben Genz

Country: Denmark

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 90 minutes

Scale: 4

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