Reader’s Recommendations: “Terribly Happy”

terribly_happy_ver2Hey everyone, it’s Friday, time for another entry in the Reader Recommendations series!

The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, email me @ or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate!
222This time up, our movie recommendation comes from Adam Griffith of 3 Guys 1 Movie, who’s recommended the 2008 Danish film “Terribly Happy”. I heard good things about it when it first came out, and actually have had it in my Netflix instant queue without ever pulling the trigger, so I was happy to finally give it a shot!
Click through and check out what we had to say!

My questions in bold, Adam’s answers are below!

1.) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
I first saw the film when it was streaming on Netflix. It was located in the suggestions for one of their categories. Maybe something such as gritty foreign films or because you watched Let The Right One In. While I cannot recall the actual date I am thinking it was sometime in 2011. I subsequently purchased a used copy on Amazon, so as to review the film as it now no longer available for streaming. That reminds me my brother still has my copy.
2.) Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
Terribly Happy is an interesting mix of western and neo-noir with great dialogue. It remind me an awful lot of a Coen Brothers film. Similarly, I think Nordic Cinema is an area that more folks should check out, lots of great stuff coming out of Winterfell.
3.) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
To be honest I usually get a blank stare when I mention this film. While I have been singing it’s praises on a regular basis, for the most part I am in the minority.
4.) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
Fogs I thought South Jutland would remind you of upstate New York. Go Red Sox!
5.) Have you written about the movie yourself? (Insert plug here! LOL)
As a matter of fact I have written a review

Thanks Adam! My review is below!


“Terribly Happy” tells the story of a cop named Robert (Jakob Cedergren) who made some kind of (initially undisclosed) error in judgment, and is now being reassigned from the big city to a small town.

Upon his arrival, it doesn’t take him long to realize that the town is isolated, insular and irregular. The locals are a tight knit community with their own way of dealing with things, and they’re not too keen on his big city ways of policing. Robert first comes in to town determined to atone for his mistakes and to play things by the book, but he finds himself outnumbered by the townsfolk, all of whom would rather see him become a part of the town as opposed to being an outside representative of the law.

When he begins an affair with the wife of the town bully, though, things really go off plan for him. Before long, tragedy arises, and Robert will have to answer who is is and what he stands for.

“Terribly Happy” is a chilling little film. The lead character is unstable, even though he wants to be morally upright. He spends most of the film trying to be heroic, but the moments when he wavers or makes mistakes have epic consequences. He’s also haunted by the mistakes of his past… from having guilt and regret to needing meds, you’re always aware that the things he’s done are weighing on him.

The town he finds himself in is a small hamlet with few people, yet it manages to be full of secrets and shadows. He’s immediately wary that there’s more to the townfolk than meets the eye, and when he first gets a taste of their ideas of “justice”, it doesn’t sit well with him. By the end of the film, however, his moral certitude is fading, and he finds himself starting to fall in step.

It’s splendidly directed by Henrik Ruben Genz. The setting is bleak, and he uses it to highlight his themes of regret and remorse. There were numerous well done shots that visually represented something he wanted to get across, especially the mirroring between the antagonist and protagonist. It was quite clever, I found it very well done. He also gets solid acting across the boards from his cast.

It all adds up to an atmospheric, tense crime drama. Part noir, part psychological thriller. It was Denmark’s submission to the Oscars in the 2008 Foreign Language film category, and I can see why. A haunting, disturbing little film. I liked it quite a bit!



28 thoughts on “Reader’s Recommendations: “Terribly Happy”

  1. Something rotten in the state of Denmark. Truly weird little flik bordering on the bizarre. A lot of things are hinted at but never examined, like Robert’s past mistakes. This is the Danes idea of a Western, with a local bar and constant card game, and a mysterious bog that surrounds the town. The bog is something out of the dark ages, where the cow with the human head is buried. I liked it. The Danes have a very tongue-in-cheek take on things.

    • There was a bizzare element to it… I kind of felt it was a ghostly thing. For a while I suspected that he would discover he was dead. Whether that’s intentional or not, I’m not sure. It does fit nicely in with the remorse/redemption element, though. 😉

  2. Just put it at the top of my Blockbuster queue. Should watch it by next weekend. Sounds interesting.

  3. Sounds like something I could get into. I love scandanavian cinema. Strange thing is, I have a feeling I might have seen it already. I’ll do some homework and work out for sure. Either way, great recommendation and write -up. Nice one guys!

  4. Wow, this one sounds like it could fit in your “Under the Radar” series as well. This is my first time hearing anything about this flick, but it sounds like one I would dig. Thanks for the tip Fogs/Adam!

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