Parker Posey squares up to reality.
US. 2009. 96mins. Director/screenplay Mitchell Lichtenstein Production companies Pierpoline Films International sales Cinetic (1) 212 2047979 Producers Mitchell Lichtenstein, Joyce Pierpoline Cinematography Jamie Anderson Main cast Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Rip Torn, Ellen Barkin, Christian Camargo, Billy Magnussen.
Teeth director Mitchell Lichtenstein tackles some conventional subject material in an unconventional way in Happy Tears, throwing up a surreal performance from Parker Posey and a surprisingly warm supporting turn from Demi Moore, playing two sisters reunited as their tomcat father Joe (Torn) surrenders to dementia.
Posey's out-there Jayne is a love-her-or-loathe-her character, and those who go along for the ride will enjoy Lichtenstein's deliberately individualistic storytelling - from striking dream sequences to a quite unforgettable turn from Ellen Barkin as a crack whore. But not everyone will buy into the director's deliberately whimsical world.
Jayne is presented as somebody who has immense difficulty acknowledging the realities of life. Whether she is all there, mentally, is left for the viewer to decide.
Jayne is avoiding her sister, the down-to-earth Laura (Moore) who looks after their father at the run-down family home in Pittsburgh. Jayne has married into money - her husband (Camargo) is the son of a famous artist who is overwhelmed by his late father's legacy (a possible autobiographical note there from Mitchell, son of Roy Lichtenstein).
When she eventually leaves San Francisco for her home town, Jane has to face the consequences of her father's illness, which includes a memorable bout of incontinence, and meet his latest "girlfriend", the crack-addict Shelly (Barkin). Back home, her husband appears to be having a nervous breakdown.
Visually, DoP Jamie Anderson copes admirably with the challenges Lichtenstein has thrown him on an evidently tight budget.