“A blackly comic thriller about the universal nature of compromise and corruption... plays with genre in a manner that can be compared with the Coen brothers or David Lynch” – Alissa Simon, VARIETY
Director: Henrik Ruben Genz
Screenplay: Henrik Ruben Genz, Dunja Gry Jensen, from Erling Jepsen
Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Kim Bodnia, Lene Maria Christensen, Lars Brygmann
Producers: Thomas Gammeltoft, Tina Dalhoff
Distributor: Nordisk Film
2008 | 60 min
Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is a troubled police officer forced to leave Copenhagen amid accusations of professional misconduct. Rather than being fired outright, he has been politely re-assigned to the small Danish town of South Jutland, where he will be the new marshal. South Jutland is a peaceful, calm place. On the surface. This is, after all, a town whose slang greeting of “mojn” can mean either hello or goodbye. The townspeople take a reserved shine to him, but he’s still very much an outsider in a town where nobody is a stranger. This besides the fact that he is the marshal in a place that doesn’t much value traditional law enforcement. Hansen begins to get a starker understanding of small-town nuance when he comes to the aide of Ingelise (Lene Maria Christensen), a battered wife and, perhaps, a considerably mad and dangerous woman. Hansen’s intervention sparks a very big problem with Ingelise’s fierce husband Jorgen (Kim Bodnia, of PUSHER fame). Things are about to get deadly serious—and not at all in the ways you might expect from the plot points we’ve revealed. Small towns hide big secrets. Good, then, that there’s a bog nearby to swallow up anything and everyone that needs to disappear.
Upon seeing TERRIBLY HAPPY, Twitch Film asked if director Henrik Ruben Genz is the Danish answer to the Coen brothers. He very well may be. He’s created a fascinating, genre bender of a neo-noir whose unusual twists play against delicately manipulated expectations and never fail to surprise in their understated brilliance. Watching this film, it becomes clear that Genz absolutely loves movies, and he expects that you do as well. He regularly uses narrative misdirection in ways that are predicated on the viewer having a familiarity with the formulas of film noir, along with the broader staples, structures and clichés of thriller, Western and crime films. Gorgeously shot by Jørgen Johansson (camera operator on Von Trier’s THE KINGDOM), TERRIBLY HAPPY explores the nature of passive evil and moral concessions with the darkest of wit and the sharpest of intelligence. It is very likely one of the best European films you’ll see this year.