Austin Film Festival: 'Happy Ending'

AFF Film Review

Austin Film Festival: 'Happy Ending'

Happy Ending is as kawaii -- cute -- as one of Takashi Murakami's manga-derived sculptures, and like Murakami's fire engine-apple red, metal-flake paint gorgeousities, there's a bubble gum heart beating at the center of this supersaturated Charms Blo-Pop of a movie. That heart poses a very serious question, though: To love or not to love?

Atsuhiro Yamada's debut feature also verges on becoming something of a Japanese offshoot of American mumblecore. Protagonist Na Hana (last seen in Noboro Uguchi's Machine Girl) is a wallflower-y young woman who spends her days shelving books at the local library. By night she transforms into a world-weary cineaste, frequenting a nearby movie theater that shows the classics (everything from Dawn of the Dead to Roman Holiday) before returning to her tiny apartment and falling asleep to the sound of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Her only real emotional engagement comes from a giggly co-worker and the employees of the video store she frequents, one of whom (Tomoharu Hasegawa) harbors a secret crush on her. That's two points of a love triangle right there; the third arrives in the dashing form of Ryunsuke Kawai, a library patron whom Hana meets-supercute even as she proclaims that real life is nothing at all like reel life and romantic comedies are strictly for suckers.

Happy Ending gets all the notes right in a paeon to love and movies (and movie-love) for the cynical and jaded. It's clear from the start that director Yamada knows his way around both the horror and romcom genres (our anti-romantic heroine returns her DVD of The Hills Have Eyes with a delighted little throwaway squeal), but it's the film's gushing, candy-colored cinematography and the slow progression of Hana's charcter from jaded fan of final girls to tentatively love-struck human being that will ultimately melt in your heart, not in your head.

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More Austin Film Festival
Gary Hart Biopic <i>The Front Runner</i> to Close Austin Film Festival
AFF Announces Second Wave
New films by Yorgos Lanthimos, Asghar Farhadi added to fest

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 12, 2018

AFF to Honor Larry Wilmore
AFF to Honor Larry Wilmore
Festival celebrates long impact of writer and comedian

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 28, 2018

More Happy Ending
AFF Announces Audience Award Winners
AFF Announces Audience Award Winners
Festival also sets 2010 dates

Kimberley Jones, Nov. 5, 2009

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Jan. 8, 2021


Austin Film Festival, Happy Ending

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