Happy Ending 2023 Movie Review
Whump. Whump. Whump. The mattress appears to be getting some heavy action. Hello there! But it ain’t what you think: Luna (Gaite Jansen) is just jumping on it while Mink (Martijn Lakemeier) stands outside, determining how loud they can get when they’re really going for it later. This is what you call “irony,” because the implication is that their sex life is hotter than hellflames when, well, it’s kinda not. We witness it firsthand as Mink, you know, bats for the cycle, while Luna dribbles a grounder to second. But if you heard her, well, you might think she’s rounding third and heading home home home! Her voiceover tells the truth, though: “That was my 132nd fake orgasm,” she says. Eeeeesh. On second thought, was she particularly convincing? Hard to tell. She and Mink have been dating for a year. They met while working at the same beachside bar, hit it off, looked – and still look – very cute together. When they consummated their attraction the first time, she pretended, and just kept pretending, and never talked about it or corrected it or anything and now she sees it as a try-to-get-the-genie-back-in-the-bottle impossibility.
But she’s very clearly in love with Mink. They have a lot of fun together, dancing, drinking, going to dress-up cosplay dinner parties with their friends. She even moved in with him. One night, he reaches the zenith, so to speak, and she goes yesyesyes and then she sneaks off into the bathroom after he’s out cold and opens the little soap box, pulls out her handy-dandy vibrator and finishes the deal. For their one-year anniversary, one of her lady besties gives them some fluffy handcuffs, which spins into an idea: How about they spice up their sex life by inviting a third party into their bed? Luna suggests it and Mink is game, but he still thinks she’s singing ‘Erotic City’ when she’s actually singing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction.’ Or ‘She-Bop.’
We get a comical sequence where they try to pick someone up at a nightclub – “I can’t flirt to save my life,” she says – then switch to using an app. (When she fills out their profile, under “interests,” she puts “Netflix.” Bleargh.) We get a montage of swiping and a funny bit where Luna says, “Why are there so many people?” and then they meet Eve (Joy Delima). All cards on the table, the three of them go out bar-hopping and then back to Luna and Mink’s place for a pretty lengthy sequence in which there’s some awkwardness and some sexiness and after Mink reaches the holy land and Luna fakes it, he passes out. This is when Eve looks at Luna, perhaps knowingly and perhaps not, and ventures down south and asks her what she likes and before you know it, RAPTURE! Ahh. Finally. But… now what?
Happy Ending delivers sex sequences like an action film structured around its fights and chases. It doesn’t exist solely to titillate, though – writer-director Joosje Duk tiptoes the line between comedy and drama, and illustrates what happens when couples aren’t open, honest and communicative. It’s steamy, but never sordid, and ultimately too sweet to be scorching.
The movie only functions in fits and starts, though. Its uneven tone is a product of thinly rendered characters; Luna’s inability to open up to Mink has no apparent origin, and is merely a problem generated by the plot. Why is she, you know, this way? Who knows. We don’t get nearly enough background on Luna and Mink – obvious or implied – to give them the type of internal, psychological motivation that determines how people function in relationships. But Luna and Mink aren’t really people anyway, they’re Movie Characters, driven by situations as they’re written in a screenplay.
The screenplay’s need for another draft or three is Happy Ending’s biggest issue. Otherwise, it’s a nicely shot film, naturalistic where similar American films are glossy and artificial, and the cast is game. Delima is notably strong as the one primary character who seems to be sure of herself; she brings an easy charm the movie where Jansen and Lakemeier seem to struggle with underwritten roles and tonal inconsistencies – the film halfheartedly dabbles with sitcommy supporting characters that tend to compromise its attempts at more serious drama. Ultimately, it’s a dramedy that isn’t as dramatic or funny as it could be.