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Aren't you happy?

Scathing satire behind a cute façade


"My dear, what are you doing here all alone?" "Waiting." "For your Prince Charming? It may be awhile." "For the end of capitalism." "Ah, then I’ll wait with you."

The first film by Berlin writer Susanne Heinrich (author of So, jetzt sind wir alle mal glücklich and In den Farben der Nacht) follows a young woman (Marie Rathscheck) as she drifts through life in an ultracool, endlessly bored, beautiful and ennui-ridden state. The film plays out in hyper-stylized scenes with titles like "End of the Love Story", "Post-Erotic Times", and "A Gentle Assault While Drinking Coffee". Many of the scenes depict encounters with men: there's the guitar player, the turtleneck-clad intellectual, the crown-wearing prince sitting in a bathtub, and the over-the-top esoteric. But there’s also the woman in the mommy-yoga class. Whoever she encounters is deflected by her seen-it-all, heard-it-all, serene-lotus demeanor. "It's not irony, it's cynicism," she says with a cool stare. The pop-pastel images, the animations, the songs, and the pretty transitions backed with sound effects from childrens’ shows form a deceptive cuteness that sits in stark contrast to detached statements like "the saddest thing is when a boy ties up an empty condom and throws it away", or "depression arrives at 30". It's not just the words that are meta, but the images as well: two- and three-dimensional objects interact, while set pieces are made to look like sets, with self-referential murals that satirize desire. But this, too, is no solution. "Under the dictatorship of self-realization," says the girl, "everyone is an artist".

"I once saw a film by Helke Sander,” she says. “The women in it were more enlightened, less oppressed, and somehow not as bloodless as we are." While AREN'T YOU HAPPY? has its roots in the cinematic courageousness of feminist film pioneers, it is, at its core, more a representation of their yearning for political unconditionality. Sharp, quick, venomous, convinced of its own infallibility, and utterly stylish, Susanne Heinrich's film is a thrilling attempt to make art in a post-avant-garde era. Its ultimate goal is, perhaps, to draw a spark of fury from its own melancholy.


Translation: John Peck


Original title: Das melancholische Mädchen
Deutschland 2019, 80 min
Language: German
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Director: Susanne Heinrich
Author: Susanne Heinrich
DOP: Ágnes Pákózdi
Montage: Susanne Heinrich, Benjamin Mirguet
Music: Moritz Sembritzki, Mathias Bloech
Distributor: Salzgeber
Cast: Marie Rathscheck, Yann Grouhel, Nicolo Pasetti, Pero Radicic, Monika Wiedemer
FSK: 12
Release: 27.06.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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