movie review: I tempi felici verranno presto (Happy Times Will Come Soon)

(This review is part of a series related to my professional development project of attending the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.)

Happy Times Will Come Soon movie poster

Happy Times Will Come Soon
I tempi felici verranno presto (original title)
(Italy/France, 2016)
Dir. Alessandro Comodin

It’s hard to say what this movie is about, because it’s deliberately ambiguous. Director Alessandro Comodin explores the idea of local legends and their basis in real life events, but we are never sure if what we are seeing is the legend or the truth.

The movie is divided into distinct segments that tell separate stories with overlapping elements: young men on the run from…something; a sheltering but ominous forest; a wolf that hunts humans; mysterious caves and pools of water; hunters and prey; young women who disappear and reappear.

The film plays with timelines in a way that is deliberately confusing. It’s hard to know the order of events, or the nature of the relationships between characters. Some segments are very naturalistic (there is one bit in the middle that suddenly shifts from narrative film to pseudo documentary interviews with local villagers about a wolf in the forest that may have abducted a young woman), while others seem dreamlike. The viewer is left with more questions than answers.

The forest is beautifully filmed, and the actors are very good. However, I was disappointed overall. I think the director deliberately aimed for (and achieved) ambiguity and incoherence, but it did not seem to serve a discernible purpose, and as a result was quite alienating. I’d only recommend this film for people who love inexplicable art house cinema and are not bothered in the least by not knowing what the hell is going on a lot of the time.

This film does get some bonus points, however, for featuring the most adorable donkey I’ve ever seen.

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