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Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Happy-Go-Lucky. Feature film. (2008, 118 mins) IMDB

...what would it be like to be Poppy...

W

ow. I'm not sure what to say.

Is it really possible to create a narrative where you're hero is happy-go-lucky? That no matter what happens, she smiles and laughs and continues on as if nothing happened. It appears to be the case.

In the opening sequence she rides a bicycle with abandonment as if she were riding to enjoy the breeze on her face, marvel at the sites and to take her wherever she ends up. When she arrives at a bookstore, she parks her bike and goes in. The shop clerk is indifferent. Her attempts to humanize him fail. After her browsing, she returns to find her bike is missing, probably stolen, to which she responds with a laugh, "I didn't have time to say good-bye." Who else would speaks those lines in that situation? I know I wouldn't.

As I watched the film, I wondered what evil would befall such a person, but it doesn't come. Having said that, what befalls her is the everyday things we all experience and have seen.

While she is happy with her life, almost everyone around her is befuddled or angry or confused or just miserable.

Her younger sister, pregnant, married, living in her own home, doesn't understand why Poppy, the old maid, wouldn't want what she has, even though she seems depressed with life and not satisfied with what she has.

Her driving instructor is the central figure after Poppy. Since she lost her bike, she figures it's a good idea to learn how to drive. The instructor, about her age, is miserable and paranoid and well a bit on edge. The two of them are an odd couple, but they are and never will be a couple.

In every scene where they are together, and there are many, they are at odds. She tries to loosen him up. He does what he knows, what seems safe to him and that's be a prick.

From start to finish, does Poppy change? Not really. I think she's the same at the start of the film as she was at the beginning. Does she reach any particular goal, achieve any objective? Again, not really. She establishes a relationship with a social worker, but who knows where it will end and the film doesn't end with them clutching each other.

In a scene, on their first date, they meet at a bar and chat. Each asks questions and make statements that say, "I love you," but neither ever says those words. It's a scene worth studying because it is true to life and fascinating to watch. It's fascinating because we get to see another side of Poppy.

No, this is a film to showcase a person named Poppy who is happy-go-lucky. Fortunately for her, she doesn't come to some evil. Perhaps there is justice in this world.

I write my comments after a first viewing of the film and with only the briefest of notes (one page). I wonder what I'd learn from a second viewing because I think this film has move going on and it's difficult to get it all in one viewing. Even for Oscar Wilde and Northrop Frye.

Posted 2009/04/16 at 18h15ET in Movie Commentary.

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