I have just finished watching Their finest, by Lone Scherfig – a really fine comedy released last year, a kind of meta-film on the Dunkirk episode (more than three hundred thousand soldiers stranded on the shore in North France, saved by a flottilla of civilian boats – in case you haven’t seen the eponymous film by Cristopher Nolan) but why on Earth did it have to end so sadly? I don’t want to spoil it, I am not going to say anything in detail, but couldn’t they let their characters live happily ever after? Is happiness politically incorrect, now? And it all happens so fast, after almost two hours of comedy, fine acting and subtle writing… It’s just not fair.
By the way, weird how such a quintessentially British, English film was made by a Danish director; she is really good, and her work varies a lot. My favourite is An education.
P.S. Reading the post again for mistypings (writing late at night isn’t really good for spelling) I was reminded of a film by Robert Altman with Tim Robbins and Greta Scacchi, The player. It was released in the early 90’s. It is set in the world of cinema studios in California. At the beginning, some earnest screenwriters are working on a script about the death penalty, and they vow NOT to have a happy ending: there will be no last minute saving of the condemned protagonist. I remember very little, only that at the end the death row inmate IS saved, and that it is shown as a sell out. I don’t know… of course a script must be consistent, I am not saying that every film must end well (and some tragic endings are absolutely cathartic for the audience, or at least meaningful ) but there is nothing wrong with a heart-warming happy ending either.
Which reminds me, as I write, of another comedy, American this time, a more openly meta-fictional film: Stranger than fiction, by Marc Forster (2009). The protagonist’s fate is in the hands of a novelist, and he asks for the help of an academic to understand what it has in store for him. I was surprised it was not more successful, at least here in Italy no one really talked about it at all. The cast was very good: Will Ferrell in the main role, Quezen Latifah, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman as the academic , and Emma Thompson as the writer.