“The Happiness of Things” has little action and big flaws – 05/21/2022 – Illustrated

Films where little happens are fascinating but difficult. In “The Happiness of Things”the debutante Thais Fujinaga devotes herself to the holidays of a bourgeois family who have bought a house on the beach and want to build a swimming pool there.

Paula, the woman, is the one who holds them all. The husband, who is supposed to work, does not send the money for the materials, the workers interrupt the work, the two small children are left to drift, without doing anything, the doomed mother hinders rather than helps , a man who comes to fish in the river which flows next to the house irritates him.

The argument is promising. It is, after all, about staging a bourgeois family, which little is tried in Brazilian movies. The family in question is experiencing difficulties that may arise from the prolonged economic crisis.

His aspirations (or Paula’s, for that matter) seem to lead only to frustration. Finally, Paula is at the end of her pregnancy. A pregnancy that does not seem to soothe her anxieties or bring her hope.

It’s as if people of this social class, who think a lot about themselves and dream of a less stressful and a little fun future, were only entitled to the dry part of life. They are different from the poor, of course, who just want the food to come home at the end of the month, they don’t even reach the point of frustration.

However, it seems that the destiny of this middle class, embodied by Paula and her family, is reflected in the sad and neglected alleys of the seaside town.

The swimming pool resembles a characteristic idea of ​​the “flight ahead” carried out by Paula. It is as if she will solve her husband’s disinterest, the son can solve the lack of contact with other boys, and the girl has another interest than watching her brother’s movements.

Everything seems well resolved at this level. But films with little action are demanding and cause us to notice the slightest flaws. In the case of “The Happiness of Things,” those flaws are greater.

They are, for example, in the relaxation of the framing, in the charmless light, in the fact that these aspects apparently only marginally interest the author.

The complement of this problem is implacable: the artistic direction may have wanted to underline the lack of taste (or the precariousness, it amounts to the same thing) of the furniture and the clothes of these characters. Maybe he was just looking for a realistic treatment.

The result, however, affects the images with force, so that the colors never seem to form a minimally harmonious whole. But also does not lack harmony. It just looks messy.

When he returns to nature, on the contrary, Fujinaga makes his plans happier. Especially those that involve water, be it sea, river or even pool and even rain.

It’s not that in other territories good ideas don’t pop up here and there, like the club you can barely see through the bars (which only highlight yet another unfulfilled wish) or , during the party that takes place there, appears barred by a thick wall (it’s no coincidence, the boy’s nocturnal adventure is probably the most interesting point of the film).

But overall, “The Happiness of Things” perhaps comes up against the filmmaker’s inexperience, perhaps the budgetary limits that the current era imposes on films, and largely results in an insufficient set.

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