Terribly Happy

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 quickly adopts a tone that 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 violence dispute between a sultry but possibly insane woman and her hot-tempered husband, and one starts 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, well, terrible film, but it lacks a spark. Cedergren has more than a physical resemblance to Affleck: like the fleeting Hollywood heartthrob, he shows little range as an actor, and 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, even though there are a few good 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.