Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Toby Jones
Fans of Michael Haneke’s 2012 masterwork Amour will see two of its stars, Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, reunited in Happy End, which screened in Competition at Cannes 2017 (to typically rapturous acclaim).
The scene is Calais, where Anne (Huppert) is the chatelaine of both her family’s estate and lucrative business, having taken it over from her father Georges (Trintignant) – who (in another echo of Amour) is suffering from dementia and occupies a Lear-esque place in their household, waited on by long-suffering Moroccan servants.
The family is shot through with anxiety: from Anne’s engagement to a British lawyer (Toby Jones), to her deadbeat son Pierre (Franz Rogowski), her secretive brother Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz), and mysteriously self-possessed Eve (Fantine Harduin), whose mother is ill in hospital. Their interactions are a portrait of dysfunction – against which, the migrants of Calais linger in the background, planning their next attempt to cross the Channel.
As with Funny Games, the film’s title is entirely ironic, as Happy End contains no simple resolution. It’s a blistering satire of the haute-bourgeoisie, wrought by a dazzling master of cinema, exploiting his favourite themes – of familial dysfunction and psychological violence; the horror of death and the obsession with surveillance – to brilliant effect.