By Don Simpson | March 12, 2010
Director: Henrik Ruben Genz
Writers: Henrik Ruben Genz, Dunja Gry Jensen (screenplay), Erling Jepsen (novel)
Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, Kim Bodnia
Robert (Jacob Cedergren), a police officer, is being transferred from Copenhagen to Skarrild (a very small village in rural Denmark) after having “just snapped” back in Copenhagen. Robert is being given a second chance in this land of mud, cows and rubber boots where “mojn” (meaning both hello and goodbye) is the typical salutation. Robert soon inherits a cat from previous Marshall who left it behind (the cat also seems to say “mojn”).
People seem to just disappear here (the previous Marshall, owner of cycle shop). Does it have something to do with the bog? (In this part of Denmark, the water table is very high. Cows have been known to sink, stay under water for 6 months then give birth to a two-headed calf with human and cow heads…)
The townspeople of Skarrild like to handle things on their own and they don’t necessarily do things by the book of law. Shoplifters are reprimanded with a smack on the ear, rather than getting the police from Tonder involved. (As far as the Tonder police are concerned, not much happens in Skarrild.) The people of Skarrild also don’t like wife-killers…but don’t worry about that right now.
Robert obviously has a jaded past. His ex-wife won’t talk to him nor can he speak to their daughter – we can only assume that it is related to his “snap” back in Copenhagen.
A seductive blonde named Ingelise (Lene Maria Christensen) reports to Robert that her husband Jorgen (Kim Bodnia) beats her regularly – Jorgen later retorts by explaining that Ingelise is not right in her head. Besides, Jorgen has a temper and he hits everyone. Why is it any different when he beats Ingelise? Whenever their daughter Dorthe (Mathilde Maack) takes her baby stroller out for a walk, it means Jorgen is beating Ingelise. The whole town knows this – but they do nothing. This is the modus operandi for Skarrild – turn your blind eye and ignore it, maybe it will go away. If not, then the bog will make it go away.
At one point, Ingelise tries to kiss Robert – “that’s not by the book,” he says as retracting. Nonetheless, Robert cannot resist her feminine wiles. At one point after having just been beaten by Jorgen – her cuts and bruises still fresh – Ingelise seduces Robert into bed with her…as Jorgen is passed out drunk a mere 20 or so feet away. When Ingelise turns up dead the same night, Jorgen is the obvious suspect – yet Robert knows that Jorgen is innocent.
Terribly Happy is a very odd thriller, because the audience knows exactly who the murderer is. In fact, everyone does. I’m not a fan of films that let remorseless killers off without a scratch, as if nothing ever happened. Doesn’t taking a life (or two) mean anything to anyone anymore? Well, luckily, director Henrik Ruben Genz’s Terribly Happy does not do that and I’m pretty…make that terribly happy the way things get wrapped up.