Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Hour (2015) New Directors New Films 2016

HAPPY HOUR is the story of four long time friends who find relief from their lives and loves in the occasional meetings they have. In theory the four women reveal everything to each other, but when one of the women is revealed to have held back that is has been seeking a divorce the relationship between the women begins to crack since suddenly the one thing they could count on isn't as solid as they thought.

In doing reading on HAPPY HOUR after watching it I found that there were two things that almost everyone mentioned when seeing the film:

1- That the film runs five hours and seventeen minutes not including intermissions (the film is in three parts)

2- If you don't like films that are all talk stay away because this film is pretty much five hours and seventeen minutes of extended conversations.

The joy for some and the curse for others is that the film really is a series of slices of life and conversations. Things spin out as they would in a real life. There is no rapid jump cuts and or getting right to the point. The characters here talk to as they would making small talk before the important stuff comes in. We get a great deal of shading about their lives as well as the drama. We really get to know them in ways most films running an hour and half never manage.

And at this point I have to make something clear about how I saw the film because I know it very much influenced how I feel about the film. I saw HAPPY HOUR, not at a press screening for New Directors New Films but on the Festival Scope service and I broke the film up as if I was watching three separate films with long breaks in between and it made my feelings for the film very different than I know if I saw this in a theater in one go. The breaks were over night between the first and second part and a couple of hours between the second and third. Even the act of sitting at home and watching things on my laptop changed how I felt because my attention was drawn away from the film.

How is the film?

On a simple good and bad scale, its good, but really long. I'm suspect that I would have liked it more had I been in an isolation chamber with the film and not in my home.  I don't think I would have ever been one to wax poetic, as some have done, about the various wondrous things that the film does on all sorts of literary like levels but it's a good film.

To be honest the simplicity of this review is in direct response to most of the reviews I read that went on and on about all of the wonderful intellectual things the film did. I found them insightful but I didn't really come away with any sense of how the film was emotionally. They all loved the ideas but no one really said if the film moved them or made them feel anything. I found it odd that a film that is very much about human connection didn't inspire much human connection with the reviewers. They never said how it made them feel other than to say it didn't feel long.

Is this film for you?

That would depend on if you like films that slowly reveal life through conversation. For me it was something I enjoyed this one time through but I know I'll never revisit the film again because it's length and my lack of connection to parts of it makes it a film I doubt I'll ever have the urge or time to see again.

HAPPY HOUR plays this weekend at New Directors New Films.

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