Terribly Happy Poster

Terribly Happy (2008)

Drama | Mystery   
IMDB Rayting:   6.9/10
Country: Denmark
Language: Danish

A thriller about a Copenhagen cop who moves to a small town after having a nervous breakdown.

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fnorful 29 April 2009

This was one of my top 5 films at the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival.

In the introductory narrative we are told that "all the events are true". A short story is told of how a cow was stuck in the bog, dug out 6 months later and gave birth to a two-headed calf (one human, one bovine). This sad animal causes distress to the town and is put back into the bog.

Well. We may not know where this is going, but it's sure to be interesting.

Robert (Jakob Cedergren) has a troubled past in Copenhagen and is re-assigned to a remote Danish town, where he is quickly embroiled in its odd business. Does Jorgen (Kim Bodnia), the local force to be reckoned with, actually beat his wife Ingerlise (Lene Maria Christensen)? Is that why their daughter takes her dolly for a walk in the evening, with the squeaky wheel heard by all in the village? Why is the bicycle shop deserted, but the music blaring?

And what is in the bog?

The theme of the small town that runs by its own rules is well presented here. No one wants to get the "big city" involved. Abuse is known but ignored. The Marshall fits in in that everyone seems to have a secret in this town. A twisted ethic exists in just what needs to be done, whether the Marshall is supposed to punch out a pre-teen shoplifter (if he doesn't, Dad Jorgen will), you are supposed to say "mohn" instead of the usual Danish word for hello, the doctor supplies narcotics to the hairdresser/call-girl, and your clothes need to be put on the line to dry in a just-so order. And what do you do about the abused wife, who may just be playing her version of crazy with the newest Marshall?

The various plot twists, the machinations of the local card-playing cabal looking for a new fourth, the (lovely) cat who says "mohn": all provide fit companions to the Bog. The Bog is metaphor here as a place where secrets reside, the past sometimes remains hidden and the future lies in wait. The bog is as much a character as the townspeople and the townspeople are the bog.

The film alternates between disquieting views of the flat fields and frenetic twists (big and small) in the plot. I could not imagine a single scene being left out. Lovely and tense, this Euro-Noir film is well acted and well filmed; a good bet for those who like quirky and creepy.

corrosion-2 17 October 2008

Terribly Happy is a stylish Danish noir based on actual events. It's a classic "fish out of water" story. Robert (Jakob Cedergren ),a police officer is sent from Copenhagen to a small Danish village as its new Marshall. He soon finds that the village people have their own set of rules and laws and are not ready to accept outside interference with their coda of justice. Although at first Robert tries to play everything by the book, he is soon drawn deeply into the villagers' web of deceit and corruption.

The director Henrik Ruben Genz creates a very bleak atmosphere set against the Danish countryside. The film is full of black humor, reminiscent of Coen Brothers, specially Fargo. The casting is particularly good, with Kim Bodnia outstanding as a wife beating lout. Terribly Happy is tightly directed and is gripping from start to finish. Recommended.

chapsmack 30 June 2009

Nicely done. I am glad I picked this one out. Kind of movie you'd like to watch on a lazy moody afternoon. It will perk up your interest and will get you ready for the evening! Trust me you won't get bogged down! The film is set in a bleak Fargoesque landscape and begins to build up slowly. I found a couple of situations in the plot that could be a bit far-fetched and probably could have been done better but this doesn't affect the overall quality of the film. Even with a low budget the director has come up with a remarkable suspenseful and to an extent, a film with a moral. So go on, get some pop-corn on and get settled in your favorite spot. Go out for a beer later - preferably the local beer joint!

ruby_fff 26 February 2010

Did I say comedy? You certainly wouldn't feel that it is until you walk out of the theater and just might break into a smile, realizing how funny 'Terribly Happy' it all is. That's rather brilliant of the screenplay and direction. It's 'Fine & Mellow' productions, ha, indeed. This Danish dark comedy may not be everyone's cup of tea - there are terrible things happening throughout the movie that are not pleasing by normal social standards: mysterious disappearance of persons, deaths (or murders?), battered wife, neglected child, child striker and wife beater, imposing town bully, neighbors who are in the know and do nothing to help (so it seems). It's an uncomfortable community of a small rural town to find oneself in. Well, that's where Robert got dropped off at the beginning of the story.

The plot thickens as you watch our central character, Robert Hanson (played by Jakob Cedergren, convincingly deadpan), a city cop from Copenhagen 'banished for atonement' to Skarrild, a small provincial town with an ill-fated cow with two-heads legend as we, the viewers, are informed at the very onset of the film. "The following is based on a true story" flashed on screen in passing. We're introduced to our town flirt furtively disturbed, Mrs. Ingelise Buhl (played by Lene Maria Christensen, appealingly oversexed). The town bully and constant drunk in his cowboy hat, Jørgen Buhl (played by Kim Bodnia, menacingly ill-natured). And the cast of the key townsfolk: the doctor - Dr. Zerlang (played by Lars Brygmann, calculatingly all-knowing), the card game players including the general store owner, and the bar regulars, the lady bartender, not forgetting the lady hairdresser, and little Dorthe, Ingelise's daughter (played by Mathilde Maack in silent plight), who often pushes her pram with squeaky foreboding noise on the streets of Skarrild. Yes, all sorts of predicament and dilemma Robert very soon discovers, yet half-truth, never fully revealed by the townsfolk or party involved, let alone the doctor, who may very well be the town mayor discreet, holding all the cards (a literal pun). Secrets, more back-story continuously unraveling.

Writer-director Henrik Ruben Genz, based on the novel by his childhood friend, Erling Jepsen (a best-selling Danish author), delivered a noir thriller in dark comedy form all at once. Sheer talent! The film title is unquestionably befitting. It could be: How to deal with a town bully? Or: How to get your ideal town marshal? 'Terribly Happy' - the two choice words together simply take the cake. (A climatic sequence definitely did justice to the 'happy' and the 'terrifyingly tense' moments simultaneously experienced). "Terribly Happy" indisputably worth your while. Hopelessly helplessly with quiet glee. After all, it's a fine and mellow Skarrild community, why wouldn't Robert want to hang around and be their perfect marshal?

Note: Director Genz's statement and interview, author Jepsen's statement, can be viewed from the Press Kit accessible online at "oscilloscope.net/shop/view_film.php?ID=18&r=gallery"

johno-21 20 January 2009

I recently saw this at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival. from writer/director Henrik Ruben Genze based on the novel by Erling Jepsen is a dark and quirky crime story set in a small rural Danish village where everybody knows everything about everyone and they live and die by their own unique code of justice. Robert (Jakob Cedergren) is a cop from the city who has been reassigned as the town marshall because of a mental breakdown he suffered and he has to stay in the demotion until he can work his way back onto the force back in the the city. He immediately discovers the odd and unwelcome clannish ways of border town community and meets Ingerlise (Lena Maria Christiansen), the abused wife of the town bully Jorgen (Kim Bodnia). This is a psychological thriller with suspense and dark comedy woven together in a story that is almost Stephen King-like. The moody cinematography from Jorgen Johansson is excellent and the film moves at a slow pace but never drags down and keeps your interest throughout. I would give this an 8.5 out of 10 and recommend it.

Chris Knipp 13 February 2010

The ironically titled Danish film 'Terribly Happy' is the tale of a cop sent to serve as local Marshall in a remote border town in South Jutland called Skarrild that doesn't need cops or have much use for them. It's a place where nothing much happens. Ha! Well -- that's what they say. This part of the country, you don't know if you're coming or going. People use the same monosyllable, "Mojn" (pronounced "moyn") to say both "hello" and "goodbye." Men of few words, they are, these boozy locals, who like to settle scores their way, not "by the book." Klepto kids are just boxed brutally on the ears and sent packing. There's a bog that swallows up junk, sometimes a cow, maybe some darker secrets. This place is insular, mysterious, and weird. And a bog, like a pistol, once introduced, must be used.

'Frygtelig lykkelig' (it sounds funnier in Danish) has its own rhythm and momentum, and a snappy style including a sound design that's sometimes explosive, sometimes ironic. The film's consistently effective, and has a unique feel, though at times its hodgepodge of genres and stylistic borrowings evokes Coen brothers (especially 'Blood Simple') and David Lynch work as it would be if the American auteurs had filmed in Danish in consultation with Aki Kaurismaki. A mix of psychological thriller, horror story, and neo-noir, it moves fast but also manages to take the time necessary to also be a mood piece in which the town vies with the cop for the role of protagonist.

Here are the outlines, but the details have to be omitted because it's all in the surprises and twists. Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is the policeman from Copenhagen sent out here because he's had a mental breakdown some time ago. He has, shall we say, anger issues. "You're working your way up?" somebody says. Again: ha! He's in serious limbo. He looks convincing in his police uniform and has a modicum of leading man looks. But then again there's something a bit fuzzy about him too -- something a bit lost. He misses an estranged or divorced wife back home, and repeatedly tries to call her and a little daughter, but without results. He has messed up in some way, and this is a punishment assignment.

Like many noir heroes, Robert comes on the scene already in trouble and immediately gets into more. A pretty but dicey blond called Ingerlise Buhl (Lene Maria Christensen), appears, saying her husband Jørgen (Kim Bodnia) has beaten her. She barges in on Robert the way many a dubious babe has appeared on a hapless noir detective's doorstep. It's not so much a domestic squabble complaint as an attempted seduction -- and instant jeopardy for Robert. He can't ignore Ingerlise but there's no safe way to deal with her. The local rule against outside "by the book" punishments is compounded by the fact that Jørgen turns out to be a scary dude, the town bully; also a man said to have fathered a number of children around town.

The only kids we see are shoplifters corralled by the local grocer, whom Robert learns to smack as instructed rather than book (the kids, that is, not the grocer). And then there's the well-dressed Dorothe (Mathilde Maack), Ingerlise and Jørgen's little girl, who's often seen creepily pushing a big baby carriage around the town's empty, haunted streets with her teddy bear inside. It seems when bad stuff begins at home, she escapes by pushing the carriage. Funnily e

lastliberal 16 July 2010

It is happening again. A film is a hit and Hollywood remakes it. Watch the original before they do that.

Henrik Ruben Genz directs this film (and will direct the remake) that has been compared to a Coen brothers film. The synopsis is simple - Hot Fuzz in Danish, but a noir, not a comedy, even though it is funny at times.

Jakob Cedergren was great as the cop sent to a small town for his transgressions, and who got himself into a bigger mess with Lene Maria Christensen. She was also extremely good, as was her husband, played by Kim Bodnia.

What a great ending!

dfwforeignbuff 14 July 2010

Terribly Happy (Frygtelig lykkelig) This Danish Noir Crime film was one of the nominees for best Oscar foreign film 2009 83rd Oscars. It did not win. It is based on the novel by Erling Jepsen. This dark & quirky crime story is set set in a small rural Danish village called Skarrild a town that hides as many secrets as the nearby bog. This Locale is in the only part of Denmark that actually has land adjoining Europe. (the rest are islands) Skarrild South Jutland area is a boggy low lying area north of Germany where the water level is very low. Robert (Jakob Cedergren) has a troubled past in Copenhagen & is re-assigned to a remote Danish town, where he is quickly embroiled in its odd business. Essentially the story of a policeman working punishment duty in the provinces. This dark comedy is reminiscence of Fargo & subject matter is racy with child abuse murder abuse of power wife beating drinking drugs etc. The film is effective, & has a unique feel, though at times it is hodgepodge of genres & stylistic borrowings. The plot (& characters) felt flat & lifeless. The film just did not have the artistic hook that really grabbed me. (Compared to films by fellow Finland director Aki Kaurismaki) The film dour & deadpan film noir but it just did not involve excite or intrigue me. All told heart the film plays like a classic Western: the frontier town, the local bad man, the new marshal, the townspeople, the cute & vulnerable heroine, Ingelise. I hate westerns. Or is this a horror movie?? No is not a horror movie but a comic, ironic witty, well constructed psychological thriller. It still did not make on impression on me. As the story narrows into an increasingly desperate cat-&-mouse game played by Robert & Jorgen following a lethal accident, "Terribly Happy" becomes an allegory of human frailty & corruption, of loneliness & the need to belong. If that makes the movie sound depressingly weighty IT IS. How far will you go to have a sense of belonging? 3 stars

filmalamosa 8 January 2012

This film gets a 10 for uniqueness and the ending.

A cop who had a nervous breakdown is posted to a small town (in Denmark) a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business and they have their own justice system--that extends further than you would imagine.

A wife beater and his wife are dealt with effectively.

A film noir with a satisfying end although I hate to think what happened with the bicycle shop owner.

Good entertainment for adults...

Recommend it highly.

elivbg1 13 March 2010

This movie definitely has some intrigue in the beginning; a policeman is relocated to a small village because of a serious misdemeanor. There is an intriguing story in the background as he makes it into the village- a metaphoric story, which hints at the modus operandi of the village people. There is a missing person, an intriguing woman with an abusive husband, and several other characters that each has its own peculiar secret. So far, so good.

I stopped watching the movie when the weakness of the characters and bad luck took over the movie plot-line or rather- was it the plot that took over the "empty" characters? The characters started feeling/looking like puppets in the hands of their bad luck. I lost connection with the characters at this point and that left me feeling like an outsider.

At this point, I did not think that the movie would be intriguing but rather thought it is just trying to make a point for which the characters are only a vehicle. The message to me was that in the end weakness transcends all other values, that the social collective reinforces each person's individual weakness. True? Unfortunately, it is perhaps a brilliantly realistic point. Inspiring for a movie? Uplifting in any way? Not really. The movie had a point and made it.

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