Monday, January 18, 2010

"Something rotten in Denmark"

The poster tagline for "Fargo" says: "A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere." A lot happens in the middle of nowhere in Denmark, in an excellent Danish thriller "Terribly Happy" ("Frygtelig Lykkelig). I wouldn't necessarily say that the movie moved me, but it kept me on the edge (figuratevely) throughout the whole movie. If Hitchcock wrote the script, the Coen brothers directed it, and David Lynch shot it, you'd get a movie like "Terribly Happy".

A brief synopsis: a disgraced cop arrives in a small town surrounded by fields and bogs. The locals aren't friendly and want to run things their way, their ways are strange and discomporting to the new marshal, and people "just disappear". The local abused wife is putting the moves on the new arrival, and the creepy girl in a red coat keeps pushing her squeky barrel. An empty car is sinking in the bog and no one cares who the car belongs to or what is it doing in the bog in the first place. The town bully breaks people bones, and the townspeople have an unorthodox way of disciplining children. Somehow all of these are connected, but to say more would be to spoil the movie.

The tension (and the twist) do not come from not knowing who commits the crime (or rather crimes), it comes from guessing how the plot can possibly be resolve in a way that does not involve a gun and a wood chipper (wink wink nudge nudge Coens). The resolution did not entirely surprise me, but unexpectedly left me with something I would not have guessed this kind of movie could - a smile.

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, I think that anyone who enjoyed "Fargo" or "Psycho" or more recent "No Country for Old Men" would enjoy "Terribly Happy", but it is probably not worth watching more than once. Sadly, it is not out on DVD in North America, but a torrent of it (with subtitles) can be found easily.