Time with family means different things to different people, but the derision underlying this title cannot begin to be measured. ‘Another Happy Day’ is available on DVD February 7, 2012.
For some people, weddings are joyous occasions; reuniting with family and celebrating the blessed event that brings them together for such a short time. For the characters in Another Happy Day, the affair is a tortuous experience leading to a day of dread and disappointment.
Lynn’s (Ellen Barkin) eldest son is getting married at her parents’ home, bringing her back to confront the people she’s tried so hard to escape. Instead, she’s forced to face her disdainful mother (Ellen Burstyn), meddlesome sisters (Siobhan Fallon and Diana Scarwid), unsympathetic ex-husband, Paul (Thomas Haden Church), and his high-strung wife, Patty (Demi Moore). In addition, she must manage her teen son’s (Ezra Miller) drug addiction and self-destructive behaviour, and her daughter’s (Kate Bosworth) fragile emotional state. As the big day approaches, tensions reach a boiling point threatening the couple’s wedding bliss.
So many of the films about weddings before this one were comedies, it may be a bit unsettling to realize nothing about these characters’ situations are truly funny. The family Lynn is made to return to is horrific in their unsupportive nature; in fact, they seem to go out of their way to be disparaging and ensure Lynn and her children’s visit is as difficult as possible. On top of this, Paul refuses to cooperate with Lynn and Patty insists on making every situation worse.
Melancholy with moments of contentment, the script demands compelling performances from all of the actors – and everyone meets or exceeds expectations. Barkin is stellar, constantly teetering on the edge of a complete meltdown. Miller’s convincing emotional imbalance is a ticking time bomb that goes off with little warning several times throughout the picture. Moore is indescribably horrible in her efforts to ensure Lynn does not regain her place within her own family. Burstyn’s hard-nosed routine is unsettling in her resolve of choosing sense over emotion.
If ever feeling depressed about the lack of understanding in your own family, this movie is documentation that it could be far worse. Disagreements are turned into hurtful arguments and no one makes any effort to make each other’s lives easier. Giving up eventually seems the only answer. The material is an ambitious directorial debut for Sam Levinson, but his accomplished cast instinctively drive the film forward.
Director:Diana ScarwidStarring:Ellen Barkin, Ezra Miller and Ellen Burstyn
There are no special features. (Entertainment One)
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