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REVIEW: Terribly Happy

Hard to find this film, but you'll be terribly happy you saw it

Terribly Happy: Rates a B-.
Courtesy photo

A few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In. The other night, I was pleasantly surprised with the Danish film Terribly Happy, which isn’t very happy, but is very interesting. And it might be terribly hard to find. I think it’s only playing locally at the Gaslamp Reading Theater.

This is like a creepy Norman Rockwell painting in a small town in the old west, with only one sheriff that’s in over his head with the town bully. And with residents that aren’t the friendliest.

Oh, and a swamp that seems to take away a lot of the towns residents; and trucks, bicycles, cows, etc.

Rod Serling was smiling in his grave at this little piece of noir filmmaking.

Every character seemed perfectly cast.

Lene Maria Christensen is beautiful, as the abused wife of the town bully; or the woman that is saying she’s abused to attract the attention of the new sheriff in town (who has a few secrets of his own). She’s not so beautiful that you wonder why she’s even in this creepy town (the way I wondered why Halle Berry was a waitress in a greasy spoon in Monster’s Ball).

And as much fun as I had watching the huge, 6-foot-8 guy chase Robert Downey Jr. around in Sherlock Holmes, it was refreshing to see Kim Nodnia, a stocky guy who might not even be 6-foot…but with his Western shirt, cowboy hat and unshaven face…he gives off an intimidating air about him.

The town doctor is obsessed with his card game, which has a cast of characters that would’ve fit perfectly in Deliverance. They’re always sweating, and have greasy hair. He also hooks up the local hair dresser/hooker with drugs when she needs them. Michael Jackson would’ve loved this cat. (What? Too soon?)

I’m not sure if there’s really a place called Jutland, Denmark. This town looked like someplace in Texas. Or Baker.

The twangy, Duane Eddy-esque guitar also gives it a little of that feel.

In the second half of the movie, I started to correctly guess the things that were going to happen. I also started to wish 20 minutes would’ve been shaved off, although I did like the pacing and feel of the film. It just felt like it was longer than it needed to be.

I feel like a hypocrite for saying Kick-Ass was irresponsible for many of the things they did with their 11-year-old girl, and yet I laughed out loud when a man in this movie punches a little kid right in the face after he shoplifts (it makes more sense why it’s funny if you saw a previous shoplifting scene where the store owner is furious the cop merely gives the boy a stern warning).

Rumor has it there’s an American version of this that will be made. I’m hoping it gets into the Coen Brothers hands. They’d turn this into a classic. As it is now, I give it a B-.