Terribly Happy

A young Copenhagen police officer (Jakob Cedergren, who looks like a blonde Ben Affleck) is transferred to a small Danish town in the middle of nowhere after he commits a disturbing act back home that is hinted at in the first moments of Terribly Happy but only revealed near the end. Not that it's that shocking a revelation.

Small towns in movies come in exactly two flavors: idyllic and menacing. The lifeless village in this film falls squarely into this latter category, and Terribly Happy's tone falls somewhere between Twin Peaks and the original Wicker Man.

Actually, it's more like a bleak, somber version of Edgar Wright's comedy Hot Fuzz, as Cedergren's troubled character – the only lawman in a town where the isolationist residents take care of their own problems – gets caught in the middle of a domestic dispute between a sultry but possibly insane woman and her hot-tempered husband. You start suspecting that the townspeople know much more than they're letting on, and that there might be a conspiracy at work against the poor dumb cop.

Terribly Happy isn't a terrible film, but it lacks a spark. Cedergren bears more than a physical resemblance to Affleck: like the fleeting Hollywood heartthrob, he shows little range as an actor, so it's hard to care about his character – especially as he commits the worst atrocities in the story! It's a cold performance in a cold movie that relies a bit too much on bombastic sound effects, although there are a few suspenseful scenes and a rich atmosphere.

Terribly Happy is recommended mostly to fans of contemporary Scandinavian cinema who have an affinity for its signature bone-dry humor and nihilistic world view.