The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival kicks off on 17th May, where Michael Haneke’s eagerly anticipated new film, Happy End, will have its premiere.
This week the first clip from Happy End was released, and while it doesn’t give much away regarding the rest of the film, it does suggest that the title is perhaps laced with some irony, as expected from an auteur with whom happiness is not usually the prevailing feeling.
In the clip, a family sits around a dinner table. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Georges Laurent, a character in cantankerous mood who interrogates a young girl about her age and her reason for being in Calais (where the film is set). Other diners, including Anne (Isabelle Huppert) and Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz), are aghast at his frankness and it is suggested by Anne that the girl is staying with the family as her mother is ill.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Isabelle Huppert, who previously starred with Jean-Lous Trintignant in Haneke’s Oscar-winning Amour (2012), provided some more detail about the film’s main theme. “It is a portrait of a very wealthy family running this big company in Calais,” she explains, “not far from the camp where the migrants are. And it says a lot about how in our lives, in our privileged world, we are too often deaf and blind to the harsh reality of the world, – about the privileged world.”
Judging by the brief clip of Happy End, Georges Laurent’s interest in the origins of this young girl certainly fits into the narrative Huppert provides, considering that in today’s world a person’s birthplace can have a big effect on how they’re perceived by others. Taking on a subject as contentious as the migrant crisis will likely mean that Haneke’s film provokes some debate after its screening on 22nd May.
The clip below has only been released as a French-language version, but some of these comments will help you make sense of it all.