Master Austrian director Michael Haneke has won the Cannes Palme d'Or with his last two films, The White Ribbon (2009) and Amour (2012).
His latest, Happy End, also in competition at Cannes, focuses on the wealthy Laurent family living in Calais. With a top cast, including Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Mathieu Kassovitz, Haneke looks at three generations of this clan, and explores the generational difference in attitudes towards life and the world. The family seems to be living a comfortable existence, largely unaffected by the crises that surround them – they are, after all, not far from the Calais Jungle migrant camp. The genteel veneer however hides deep problems related to business dealings, illicit sexual desires, online bullying and suicidal tendencies. Each member of this family is, in some way, troubled. Haneke lays out the pieces of the puzzle before us, and the picture they form as they gradually come together is one of malaise. In Happy End, Haneke revisits some of the themes of his most memorable films, and once again gives us his incisive view of a disturbed world. The master is in very fine form.
“Happy End is a satirical nightmare of haute-bourgeois European prosperity: as stark, brilliant and unforgiving as a halogen light.” – THE GUARDIAN