Happy End (2017)


I always thought it was Charlie Brooker, the creator of Black Mirror who said “dialogue is just two monologues clashing” but I find that it was actually Charlie Brooker quoting Russell T Davies. Anyway, Michael Haneke’s film is another study of a modern world in which no-one is able to successfully articulate their sicknesses to each other, a condition largely accounted for (or symbolised by) the screens that have intruded between us.

As with The White Ribbon (perhaps more so) the script is elegantly decentralised across the experiences of the ensemble cast’s characters without feeling fragmented (interconnectivity without communication). Perhaps the tradeoff for this is absence of the black intensity of Amour, besides the most physical karaoke session ever witnessed. And while the pacing of individual scenes like Eve and Thomas in the car is perfectly judged, there’s maybe an over-reliance on those trademark set pieces which threatens to undercut moments of surprise.

Nevertheless, Haneke at his funnest and funniest here, but still the best on the bleak and abstract absurdity that connects life’s particular tragedies.



Personal Shopper (2017)


In a weird way, it has a restlessness, a mysteriousness, and a narcotised glamour that it took me until the set of the London designers to realise was reminding me of watching Blow-Up.

In parallel with Maureen’s frustration at the greater difficulty she experiences connecting with the unknown than did her talented “medium” brother, there’s an underdeveloped theme of artists with comparably superior capacities (Hilma af Klint, Victor Hugo). Occasionally tarnished by its coating of mediation and ephemerality (skype, bags, taxis, coupons, streaming, travel, fashion, iphone [so much iphone]), Personal Shopper is minor key for better and for worse.

Still, it’s an idea first, and an interesting one – see also Three Billboards, though this is gratifyingly more committed. Great performance from Kristen Stewart. Better than A Ghost Story!