Review: We Are So Happy (2008)

Director: Wannes Destoop | 13 minutes | short film | Actors: Benny Claessens, Berdien Dewaele, Kristof Van Boven, Wim Willaert, Marijke Pinoy

The title “We Are So Happy” is clearly intended to be cynical. Because main character Claudine is looking for herself and a little attention in this short but powerful coming-of-age drama. A girl introduces herself through a voice-over: “My name is Claudine, I am sixteen years old and I have blond hair.” Her only friend is Stefaan with whom she feels good. But it confuses friendship with sexual favors. Actually, Claudine is a bit naive and is regularly laughed at because of her figure. It doesn’t really work with her mother either. One day she discovers a hidden side of Stefaan and the upheaval becomes even greater. Difficult to carve out a number of characters in thirteen minutes and it shows. Apparently it had to go quickly and as a viewer you don’t really get in touch with the characters, while this is the starting point of “We Are So Happy”. Furthermore, the use of stereotypes is disturbing: the somewhat marginal mother and her drinking friend, for example. We’ve all seen this before and in some cases better. Kudos to Wannes Destoop for avoiding the sentimental overkill. The Flemish jazz pianist and composer Jef Neve accompanies Claudine’s quest with his musical accompaniment, which ultimately does not make her any wiser.

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