Endlessly optimistic Kaja lives in the snowy Norwegian countryside with her verbally abusive husband, Eirik, and their young son, Theodor. Their simple way of life is threatened upon the unexplained arrival of modern neighbors Elisabeth, Sigve, and Noa, their adopted mute son from Ethiopia. Kaja is immediately taken with the cultured couple, major secrets about both relationships are revealed, and the two couples intertwine in somewhat predictable, but reasonably sincere ways.
The title of Norway’s entry in the Best Foreign Language category for the 2012 Academy Awards is about half right. The joy that Kaja feels upon her release from the bonds of a miserable relationship is infectious and inspiring, but is always countered by the misery of those affected by her actions. There’s a dark humor in the film that alternates between subtle and quirky, especially evident in the occasional and inexplicable appearances of a country gospel-type quartet that act as a kind of Greek chorus. The cast is skilled and its emotions are true, but the scenario is nothing new and will surely be a forgettable affair to many. The film’s accessibility will definitely help its chances come Oscar season.
Happy, Happy opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse.