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Terribly Happy

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A taut, noirish psychological thriller, TERRIBLY HAPPY displays an eerie and often macabre vision of the darkest depths to which people will go to achieve a sense of security and belonging. Robert Hanson (Jakob Cedergren) is a Copenhagen police officer tr


Terribly Happy, the 2010 Danish Academy Awards submission for Best Foreign Film, has been compared to the Coen brothers' noir comedies Blood Simple and Fargo, but it also bears likeness to Roman Polanski's odd, psychological horror films like The Tenant. The deadpan comedy here is so bleak that it will hardly induce laughter, yet plot ironies that pile upon each other throughout make this story uniquely gruesome and uncanny. In Terribly Happy, policeman Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is relocated, as punishment, from Copenhagen to the small town of Skarrild in a flat, rural Danish county called South Jutland. Delivered to a deserted main street with a warning that major action may occur, Robert is hardly convinced that there will be a single activity to pass time. Slowly, through Robert, viewers meet and greet the quirky community characters, like Dr. Zerleng (Lars Brygmann), a poker-playing, drug-addled physician with access to the town secrets, and Ingerlise Buhl (Lene Maria Christensen), the town beauty who dates a beast, Jørgen (Kim Bodnia). Robert quickly discovers that disappearances in a nearby bog are obviously solvable crimes but are so covered up by the community that he must assimilate, through violence, in order to expose injustice. However, as this violence escalates, a miniature but brutal war between Robert and his antagonists ensues, leaving him ensnared in a swampy situation into which he sinks deeper and deeper. Part of the dry humor in Terribly Happy relies on teasing its podunk, zombielike characters, and part of it is in the crime plot that reaches an absurd plateau as the last bodies are dredged out of sludge. While the film is highly individualistic and the script well written, the pacing feels weighted down in the mud that permeates the setting. Its slow-moving approach to crescendo may be seen as a drag to some, while to others it will mark another success in the film's aim to show how a dreadfully dull setting induces insanity. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jakob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, Kim Bodnia
  • Directors: Henrik Ruben Genz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Danish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories
  • DVD Release Date: July 13, 2010
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003IM9JWM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,138 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Terribly Happy" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By TheresMoreToLifeThanMist on June 1, 2010
Format: DVD
This movie definitely deserves to be watched - and to be rated (by those having watched it!)!

It is absolutely funny, sometimes makes you laugh out loud, sometimes simply makes you shake your head delightedly. It is different from any other movie I have seen so far and has been one of my favourite movies of the last 5 years at least. If you need comparisons: The one with the Coen Brothers is probably one of the best. One particular movie that came to my mind while watching "TH" was "Very bad things" - maybe that helps...

Terribly happy has a great story, told in a rather slow tempo, the main characters are very well developed - but whenever you think you know them, there'll be something happening, that makes the whole thing turn into another direction. Very psychological, strange, sometimes irritating, on the other hand beautifully photographed, always surprising, simply lovable and most of all damn funny - that's what "Terribly happy" is!!!

(sorry for my english - this was my first movie review ever...)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Byrd on November 14, 2010
Format: DVD
The opening sequence of 'Terribly Happy' is a glorious montage of the flat Danish Countryside - as bleak and dead as any early-Winter day in the upper Mid-Western United States - and a gravel voice describing a surreal yet absorbing legend associated with the land. This tale obliquely illuminates actions still to come, though as with any real attempt to peer into human behavior, the explanation may sound elliptical to some viewers. Still, the effect is mostly positive until one remembers that the combination of images and words at the beginning of 'Terribly Happy' bear a startling resemblance to the Coens' 'No Country for Old Men', with, I assume, the same intended result. But while Tommy Lee Jones occasionally hits a false note in his delivery, the voice from 'Terribly Happy', Puk Scharbau, rings true throughout. This may be from unfamiliarity with the language - a native Dane might find objections to Mr. Scharbau's narration that an English speaker can not, but overall, 'Terribly Happy' does suffers somewhat due to the proximity of the two films' release dates, even if this particular technique originated long before 'No Country'.

It is worth the extra time describing the opening of the film - it is its best part. Cinematographer Jørgen Johansson, under the direction of Henrik Ruben Genz, provides all of the film's high points - this is a nicely photographed film, approaching excellent, even in such a stark and bleak environment - and while his work doesn't make the film a 'must-see', it certainly elevates the entire production.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Swanson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 16, 2010
Format: DVD
It's amazing how they market films: this one has a picture of the main character pointing a gun a la Dirty Harry, though he holds a gun for about one minute in this movie. And then they call it film noir, which it isn't by a long shot. More truthful would be to simply call it a dark comedy and have a picture of a guy holding a muddy boot. Best of all? Just include quotes from the many rave reviews this one got around the globe. But that might make too much sense...

In any case, Terribly Happy isn't terribly funny or terribly sad or terribly anything except maybe slow by Hollywood standards, but it moves along at exactly the right pace to tell this tale in less than 100 minutes (three cheers for concision!). It's a very low-key movie with a simple plot that's all about character development, and for me it worked very nicely indeed. There's not a weak actor in the bunch, the script is crisp and knowing, and the story is unpredictable enough to keep it all interesting. Even the subtitles are perfectly done, a nice change from so many foreign films. You've never seen Denmark in this light is my guess, and the lack of dubbing is perfect; the rhythms of Danish in various mouths are a big part of what makes this work.

As to comparisons with the Coens et al, I can see that a bit, but better to just say that TH is its own animal and well worth watching, especially for its ever more unique charm of being almost violence-free. If you've ever lived in a really small town then you'll get this one all the way home, and its ending will resonate for quite a while with most anyone.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on August 22, 2010
Format: DVD
Robert is a Copenhagen cop who due to some problems is forced to move to a small Danish town far away from almost anything. As is often the case in these sorts of movies, the townspeople are weary of him, and he is having hard time fitting in this isolated community. He soon discovers that the police methods that might have been appropriate in a large, cosmopolitan Copenhagen are woefully inadequate and at odds with the way the townspeople carry their own affairs. As Robert tries to negotiate between doing the right thing and following the letter of the law, he entangles himself into a tragic incident that he is having the hard time extricating himself out of.

This is a very well done film that combines elements of film noir and several westerns that have been done on the theme of a new sheriff in town. Many scenes (especially the outdoors ones) are shot in a an artistic way that contribute to the mood of the film without making it unduly "artsy." The actors are well cast in their roles, almost to the point where it is hard to imagine that they are actually acting. The film also features many elements of dark comedy, although this is not the primary genre. Overall this is an interesting psychological thriller that feels more like a drama than a pure thriller. It is a refreshing alternative to the more intense and action-packed thrillers that dominate this genre these days.
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