Happy End (2017 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Happy End is a 2017 drama film written and directed by Michael Haneke. It stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, reprising their roles from the 2012 film Amour. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.


The film starts with clips secretly filmed with a smartphone by Eve Laurent, a teenager, showing her mother and overlaid with text messages from Eve saying that her mother is selfish and uncaring. The last clip shows Eve's mother unconscious and Eve admitting that she poisoned her with sedatives.

The next scene shows material filmed by a security camera which depicts an accident at a construction site. The site is owned by the construction firm of Anne Laurent, Eve's aunt. Anne is shown having dinner with her father, George Laurent, who suffers from dementia, her son Pierre, who is implied to have a drinking problem, her brother, Thomas Laurent, and his wife Anaïs. They all live together in a large mansion in Calais. We learn that the accident injured one of the construction workers and he will probably not survive his injuries. Pierre is shown going to a banlieue where he is confronted and knocked down by a young man, later implied to be the son of the construction worker injured in the accident. Pierre then flees the mansion and hides in an empty apartment, where he is found by Anne. They have an argument during which she asks him why he started drinking, accuses him of not taking his job in the construction firm seriously and tells him that had he gone to the police after being beaten up, their chances in their legal dispute with the family of the construction worker would be much better. We later see her and her lawyer talking with the family, offering some money and trying to dissuade them from suing by threatening to press charges for the physical assault on Pierre by the worker's son. Pierre is later shown trying to embarrass his mother by calling one of the housemaids a "slave" in front of a large gathering during a party at the mansion.

After Eve's mother falls into a coma as a result of the poisoning and everbody believes it to be a suicide attempt, Eve is taken in by Thomas, her estranged father. During a trip to the beach, she overhears her father talking on the cellphone to a woman. She hacks into his computer and finds many e-mails and chat messages which show that he has a sadomasochistic sexual relationship with a female musician. Eve tries to commit suicide by taking the rest of the sedatives which she had pocketed. She survives and when her father asks her at her hospital bed why she did it, she confronts him with her knowledge of his affair and accuses him of not being able to love anyone, neither her mother, Anaïs nor herself. Thomas is left speechless. A short time later, Eve's mother dies from the poisoning.

George Laurent, depressed because of his dementia and frailty, had already tried to commit suicide before and is shown stealing a car which he steers against a tree in another suicide attempt. He suffers some fractures and is now wheelchair-bound. He asks his longtime hairdresser to assist him in his suicide by obtaining a gun or medication, but the hairdresser refuses. After Eve's suicide attempt, Thomas asks George to talk to her and he asks her why she took the sedatives. She does not answer but tells a story of when she was a young child shortly after her father left her mother, she was sent to a youth camp and was prescribed sedatives. She did not take the medication herself but slipped it to another girl in the camp which she did not like. The poisoning was detected and she was sent home. When George asks her if she regrets doing it she confirms it. George then shows her photos of his wife and tells her that she became ill and suffered terribly and that he one day smothered and killed her (the story of Haneke's previous film Amour).

At a large party at a beach restaurant in honour of Anne's marriage with Lawrence Bradshaw, Pierre arrives late with several refugees from the Calais Jungle in tow. When he starts presenting them to the party crowd, Anne cuts his hand with a knife to make him stop. While this is happening, George asks Eve to wheel him outside. They leave the party unnoticed. Once outside, he asks her to push him down a slipway into the sea. They go to the edge of the water, but when she refuses to wheel him further he sends her away and tries to enter the water himself. Eve starts filming with her smartphone and the last scene of the film is shown through the lens of the phone: George almost fully submerged in the water and Pierre and Anne running after him with Anne sending a shocked look to Eve.


See also

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