Happiness

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Centred loosely on a New Jersey family of three grown-up sisters, their parents, partners and children, Solondz's brave and adventurous second feature takes misery, loneliness and cruelty as a given in contemporary life; everyone here is (justifiably or otherwise) unhappy with their lot - or should be, if they could only stop deluding themselves. Right from the painfully funny opening, it's a bible-black comedy of considerable assurance, but gradually the humour subsides to be replaced by a core of despairing human sympathy, most noticeably for the paedophile father whose heart-to-hearts with his teenage son come to form the emotional backbone of the movie. Very often, you're unsure whether you want to accompany Solondz on his journey into a modern purgatory, but you should take the trip; it's worth it, and something you'll never forget.

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