TOO MUCH HAPPINESS (1994) [Feature]

France (MIFF 1995 )
Director: Cedric Kahn

Almost documentary in its naturalistic direc­torial style, the ironically titled Too Much Hap­piness lays bare the tenuous, frustrated desires of four teenage friends beneath an endless sky on an aimless summers day.

Mathilde and Valerie are bored and almost bothered about Valerie's recent expulsion from high school, Didier and Kamel are a distraction on a lazy afternoon of swimming and 'who likes who' intrigues. When Kamel's older brother and friends muscle in with a car and ideas of a party, the sunny allegiances of adolescence evaporate into night-a long drunken and dope-filled night of escalating heat tension and small betrayals which proves to be a turning point in their relationships.

Cedic Khan's raw portrait of disenfranchised small-town youth during the mid-1980s dances around issues of racism, integration and sexual initiation to the music of Ral, Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones. The negotiations of sexual desire across racial lines between indigenous French and the French children of Algerian immigrants is detailed with subtle, yet telling understatement. Shot in only three weeks, with an obvious affinity to its subject and candid per­formances from its young non-professional cast, Too Much Happiness is sharp and knowing, a slow simmering film of unforseen surprises.

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