Synopsis: Family is the most important thing in the world to Kaia. She is an eternal optimist in spite of living with a man who would rather go hunting with the boys and isn’t interested in having sex with her anymore because she “isn’t particularly attractive.” Whatever. That’s life.
But when “the perfect couple” moves in next door, Kaia struggles to keep her emotions in check. Not only do these successful, beautiful, exciting people sing in a choir, they have also adopted a child – from Ethiopia! These new neighbors open a whole new world to Kaia, with consequences for everyone involved. And when Christmas comes around, it becomes evident that nothing will ever be like before – even if Kaia tries her very best.
Note: Happy, Happy has been chosen as Norway’s selection for consideration of the Best Foreign Language Film at The Academy Awards, 2012 (for the year 2011).
Release Date: September 16, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Everyone is happy, happy in Happy, Happy, on the surface. Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) and her husband Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) have recently moved to a small town with their adopted son Noa (Ram Shihab Ebedy). Their new neighbors are the friendliest lot, or at least one of them is in particular, Kaia (Agnes Kittelsen); Kaia’s husband Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen) isn’t all that interested. Kaia is bursting with happiness, and wants nothing more than to befriend Elisabeth and Sigve immediately, going so far as to offer that when they need anything all they have to do is flick the light in their home and Kaia will come running. Is Kaia desperate for companionship? She sure is, because her husband wants nothing to do with her and her young son is not all that responsive either. Kaia is lonely, but to the outside eye she looks to be the happiest of the happy.
Happy, Happy is a lovely film full of surprises that touch your emotions. Aided by a rockabilly-esque quartet who provides musical interludes between the “chapters” of the film Happy, Happy is a story about two couples working through their problems, with one another and as things get more and more complicated the infidelity that exists within their small circle. The self-absorbed characters of Happy, Happy need not be trivialized to show their selfishness, one need only look at their sons behavior. Kaia’s son Theodor (Oskar Hernael Brandso) plays a game of master and slave with the adopted Black child Noa of Elisabeth. But Kaia, Eirik, Elisabeth and Sigve never seem to notice the terror Noa is being put through, all under the guise of playtime. Noa and Theodor need watching over but their parent’s are more concerned with themselves in this happenstance comedy.
Happy, Happy brings to light the emotional tides of marriage and friendship. The two couples could not be more different, but the problems they face are all too familiar. As the story plays itself out infidelity soars, secrets of sexual preference are brought to the surface, and the underlining need for unconditional love is at the forefront. Happy, Happy brings that needed amount of humor and drama to life on screen, where watching people in the midst of crisis finding themselves, and one another, is a completely satisfying experience.
There are four main characters in Happy, Happy, composing of two couples. Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen) and Kaia (Agnes Kittelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) and Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen). Joachim, Maibritt, and Henrik are all wonderful in their respective parts. Joachim playing the struggling closet homosexual (or is he?) Eirik, Kaia’s husband, who spends a great deal of time “hunting” and gazing far too long at Sigve over the dinner table. Not to mention ignoring his wife and remarking that she is unattractive and not taking care of herself–his reasons for not wanting to be intimate. Maibritt’s Elisabeth is the tough, smart, beautiful woman who Kaia envies for her perfectness. Elisabeth is not perfect, as only time reveals in the film, and she ends up being a very complicated mess with deep set emotional issues–all the more fun to play and watch on screen. Henrik’s Sigve is the calmest of the bunch, but he is not without his own personal issues. He gives love easily, masking what he truly needs and feels behind a veil of lust and newness. Everyone in Happy, Happy is engaged in waves of emotions as their lives become more complicated, but it is Agnes’ Kaia that makes the film.
Kaia is the make-everyone-happy do good wife and mother. She invites Sigve and Elisabeth over for game night, dressed in her very best, and tries to impress them as much as possible. She is begging for attention, yet never obnoxious in her pleas. Agnes Kittelsen takes Kaia’s vulnerability, as well as the strength she finds as the film moves along, with such poignancy and ease. Your heart breaks for Kaia when she is hurt by her family, as the emotions on Agnes’ face tell more than lines of dialogue could. When she finds pleasure in her affair with Sigve the joy emanates on the screen–helped very much so by the huge grin and sparkle in her eyes. Her moments of growth and acceptance of her life are what tie Happy, Happy together. It is with Kaia that we follow the story along, all the while rooting for her to find the strength she needs to start a new life that will in fact be happy, happy.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Anne Sewitsky
- Producer(s): Mette M. BolstadRagnhild Tronvoll
- Screenwriter(s): Agnes Kittelsen (Kaja)Henrik Rafaelsen (Sigve)Joachim Rafaelsen (Eirik)
- Story: Maibritt Saerens (Elisabeth)
- Cast: Oskar Hernaes Brandso (Theodor)Ram Shihab Ebedy (Noa)Heine Totland (Dirigenten) Christoffer HeleZaklina StojcevskaAnna MykingCamilla Lindbraten
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: Norway