HAPPY FACE **** 2019 Canada Dir: Alexandre Franchi. 100 mins
A handsome college student named Stan (Robin L’Houmeau) attempts to connect with his sick mother by bandaging his face and joining a support group for disfigured people. As they share their stories and grow closer, he helps the group realize that what makes them different can be used as their armour against cruelty.
HAPPY FACE is a film that defies genre. It’s a bizarre and haunting tale that makes you feel as if you’re gaining insight into the lives of real people—and indeed, the cast has real facial differences, but their character development still feels honest. They’re not beautiful on the inside simply because they’re not seen as beautiful on the outside. They’re flawed. They have weaknesses that run deeper than their physicality. They’re human.
But this isn’t a film about inner beauty, HAPPY FACE is about finding inner strength. The strength to sit down in public and have a drink, or put on a bathing suit, or visit your dying mother in the hospital. And it’s about the people who can see you for who you really are—even if some of those things aren’t very pretty.
Review by Julia Lynch