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Happiness

Director/Writer:Todd Solondz
Good Machine; NR; 134 minutes
Release:10/98
Cast:Jane Adams, Dylan Baker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lara Flynn Boyle, Cynthia Stevenson, Justin Elvin, Jared Harris, Louise Lasser, Ben Gazzara and Jon Lovitz

Don't feel guilty for laughing during Happiness; it's meant to be a comedy, a very dark comedy. Hard to believe when the topics include pedophilia, rape and stalking. This is a film that lingers with you long after you leave the theater, and it will likely be talked about for years. Director Solondz takes on taboo subjects with an unblinking eye and shocking realism, wit and irony. Set in suburban New Jersey, the film follows three sisters, Joy (Adams), a too-nice singer/guitar player who becomes an ESL after her boyfriend commits suicide; Helen (Flynn Boyle) a successful avant-garde poet who thrives on the seamy and gets off on an obscene caller; and Trish (Stevenson), a mousey housewife whose husband (Baker) drugs the family dessert so he can have his way with his son's young friends. Though his subjects may indeed be shocking, Solondz presents them so candidly and unflinchingly, it's easy to be horrified and at the same time eager for what looms around the corner.


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