Happiness (1998)



AKA:
Directed by: Todd Solondz
Starring: Jane Adams (Joy), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Allen), Dylan Baker (Dr. Maplewood), Lara Flynn Boyle (Helen), Cynthia Stevenson (Trish), Camryn Manheim (Kristina), Louise Lasser (Mona Jordan), Ben Gazzara (Lenny Jordan)
Country: United States
Language: English (English subs)
Runtime: 02:19:51
Genres: Misery, Siblings-Family, Old-Young Relationships, Gay

Plot – Spoilers:
The primary theme of Happiness is the absence of it in the miserable lives of its characters.

Joy is the youngest sister in a dysfunctional family that pretends to be close but whose parents are finally separating after a 40-year marriage. She is prone to crying and is patronized by the rest of her family who regard her as a serial loser.

Trish is Joy’s older sister and a vain successful writer. But deep down she knows she’s a fraud.

Helen is the oldest sister but is caught somewhere between the other two in her life. On the one hand she feels superior to Joy on the basis of having a family of three kids and an allegedly good life with her psychiatrist husband, Maplewood. But on the other hand she’s envious of Trish’s independent success and active sex life. Helen and Maplewood’s marriage is a sham and unbeknownst to her, he has a big thing for little boys. It’s unclear if Maplewood has molested either of his two boys, but he appears to make a couple of attempts at grooming his older son Billy, whose only current aim is to cum.

Allen is a depressed neighbor of Trish who has grandiose lustful thoughts about her, but crumbles in her presence, opting to instead masturbate while telephoning random strangers. An obese neighbor of his lusts for his companionship and she has a few things in her closet as well.

Happiness is one of those really fucked up movies that achieves this glorious status without indulging in graphic effed up content. Just the characters and their lives do it. Most people will find something in it to identify with, but its true greatness lies in how humorously some of the sickest moments are treated.

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