Happy Hour: Men behaving badly
by Laurence Boyce
- Three men see their own personal Goldilocks turn their lives upside down in this German comedy-drama, which screened at this year’s Black Nights
Writer-director Franz Müller’s latest feature, Happy Hour [+see also:
film profile], is a take on the “mid-life crisis” trope that is a popular fixture in cinema. Blending comedy with a more sobering take on the nature of getting old and trying to re-shape one’s life, the film recently had its international premiere in the main competition of the 19th Black Nights Film Festival.
HC is a timid soul who – after his wife leaves him – is left as something of an empty (and chubby) shell. Soon, his friends Wolfgang and Nick enter the scene and decide to help HC by whisking him away to Wolfgang’s small cottage in rural Ireland so that he can “re-discover” himself. But it soon becomes apparent that all three – including the uptight Wolfgang and the reckless Nick – will undertake a journey themselves, especially when new women become involved in their lives.
This is a well-performed affair with the three leads forging an easy chemistry while managing to play their archetypal characters (ie, The Shy One, The Wild One and The Intellectual One) with enough verve to help stop the film from drifting into the realms of total cliché. The camerawork is solid, if unspectacular – you could imagine the movie having a comfortable home on television – but good use is made of the Irish location as it juxtaposes the group’s regimented lives back in Germany with the raw, natural and untamed opportunities that the rural countryside has in store for them.
There are a number of fun set pieces here – including a moment in which the trio decides to go and chop wood naked – and there’s plenty of good dialogue to buoy things along.
The title might have a tougher time on the festival circuit than some – comedy (despite the dramatic undertones of the movie) always finds it harder to travel, and it’s probably a bit too safe for much international distribution. But festivals looking for an entertaining and sometimes moving comedy-drama will probably snap up this German-Irish co-production.