Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Face - FrightFest 2019 Movie Review

The Movie: Happy Face

The Director: Alexandre Franchi

The Cast: E.R. Ruiz, Cindy Nicholsen, David Roche, Dawn Shaw

The Story: Desperate to become less shallow, a handsome teenage boy deforms his face with bandages and attends a support group for disfigured people.

The Review:
I absolutely love how this movie is so fearless in it's presentation by looking at some pretty hard truths in a very authentic way. We've all been there, we've all done it, we're all part of humanity. We've all looked down on someone because they look different and maybe we've been a little scared of what we don't understand so we react in ways that aren't the most productive. What this movie shows is how a lack of communication and understanding leads to fear, depression, anger, and the types of mental health issues that plague us all.

The performances are so authentic to the point where you might think this is a documentary film and not a narrative feature. What each character goes through is real because the actor themselves have lived the same reality they are portraying on screen. There are no prosthetics or masks or computer generated effects, these are real people, amazing people who just happen to not fit the cultural norms that have been established over generations.

Robin L'Houmeau plays Stan, a young man who disguises himself and infiltrates a therapy group for people with physical deformities in an effort to become more empathetic as his mom physically deteriorates during a battle with cancer. As the story unfolds, we see how, while the members of the group are dealing with their own struggles, Stan and other so called normal people who drop in and out of the story have just as much to deal with, if not more, in their own lives. The way people lash out at the group is frustrating and maddening because it all comes from a place of fear and ignorance.

Alexandre Franchi holds nothing back and emotions run high from beginning to end. Every person in the movie is flawed in some way and there are no heroes or savior characters that come in and teach everyone how to be like them. People learn by taking action even if it means making mistakes and bad decisions along the way. Finally, there is no fairy tale ending, but what the director does give the audience is something truly inspirational and a lot of food for thought when it comes to how we look at the people we cross paths with every day.

Happy Face is an official selection of FrightFest 2019.

To keep track of all my reviews, interviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at FrightFest 2019

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