Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Happiest Girl in the World (Radu Jude, 2009)

Tuesday 8th and I was off to see cea mai fericita fata din lume, hopefully she'd be smiling...

It's the story of a young Romanian girl who has entered a competition run by a juice company and won a lovely new silver car. Her parents drive her into the city where she must shoot a commercial, featuring the juice and car, to demonstrate just how happy she is.

Needless to say the title turned out to be somewhat sarcastic. Despite her good luck the young lady spends the entire film being distinctly miserable, most of the time she is moping around, smoking or arguing about her stroke of remarkable good fortune. The crux of the conflict is with her father who wants to sell the car immediately, realise a good profit, open a guest-house and then buy her a car in a couple of years with the thousands upon thousands of euros they'll make. She wants to keep the car, mainly so she can drive her buddies to the beach, and then maybe sell it in a couple of years despite the inevitable drop in value. Dear mama is stuck in the middle, reminding the girl that she didn't buy the juice that won the prize but equally trying not to alienate her daughter. Then behind this family drama is a behind the scenes look at the shooting of a rather cheesy advert that gradually descends into ridiculousness.

Fortunately it is on this makeshift film set that some comedy is bought. The director is increasingly frustrated by meddling juice executives, technical problems and a star who is pretty damn far from happy. She can't even drive the car she's just won so each time it must be pushed out of the shot as she grins inanely. The set is clearly a tense place, there's plenty of swearing and gritted teeth as the day wears on and the traffic roars around them. Most of the laughs come from saucy asides from the crew, a bored yet frank make-up lady and the general obsession with making The Happiest Girl in the World drink half a bottle of juice on every take and drinking it as fast as possible while looking as cheerful as possible.

It's a fairly slow narrative build up, the start features plenty of long shots and silences with meaningful looks full of teenage angst and anger. Needless to say it quickly becomes very clear just how ironic the title is. The whole thing meandered along reasonably enough with occasional revelations about the past that kept the drama fairly tense while the shooting of the commercial releases some of that tension as problems got stupider and tempers frayed. Ultimately I was left asking whether they could have gone further, perhaps made the disagreements more explosive or the comedy more farcical. Maybe exploiting the situation to go to one or other extreme wouldn't fit with the urban Eastern European realism but alas, the abrupt ending left this particular spectator hungrier for an even unhappier girl.

Fortunately my plan for Wednesday 9th featured a trip to Kicks which looked like it was gonna feature some pretty depressing British girls. And football. Bloody exciting.
Large Association of Movie Blogs

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright 2008-2015. All posts & reviews are property of Columb and should not be reproduced in whole, or in part, without express permission from the author.