Haneke’s latest take on technology and family dysfunction has anything but the above
A connoisseur of despair, acclaimed Austrian director Michael Haneke is a keen observer of the malignant absurdity of society, winning two Palmes d’Ors for The White Ribbon and Amour. His latest, Happy End, retreads familiar ground while presenting new perspectives on his favorite topics.
Offering a candid portrait of a wealthy Calais-based family, Happy End doesn’t pull punches, mercilessly exposing secrets, lies, and bourgeois hypocrisy as the protagonists dive deeper into self-inflicted misery oblivious to the refugees wandering the streets around them. Slow paced and meditative, Haneke comfortably settles into the niche he created over the last decades: the destructive tendencies of modern technology and the surveillance it encourages, spiritual malaise amid material comfort, emotional egotism and indifference to suffering.
His trademark long shots help create an evocative yet unsettling atmosphere, his incohesive narrative concealing layers of hidden meaning in each scene. Anchored by Isabelle Huppert as a strong matriarch keeping the family together, the riveting cast stoically faces their intolerable existence in minute detail.