With the new film Joker out in theaters, the phrase, “Let’s put a smile on that face,” comes to mind.
And there’s no better way to put on a smile than to watch the film Happy Face. There is a moment, within the first few minutes of the film, that the message of how beauty is depicted becomes clear. How one defines beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but just how far should someone go to see beauty from a different perspective?
In a world that defines beauty solely as a physical trait, there is a therapy session that attempts to help a few souls that feel out of place. This session is a specialty one that focuses on physical appearance and disabilities. The special people who attend this session are those who suffer from a lack of conventional beauty. Someone attempts to infiltrate the group for a personal gain. The session becomes more complicated when the outlier is revealed, and a more unconventional method is implemented to try to help these lost souls.
Happy Face is directed by Alexandre Franchi and co-written by him and Joelle Bourjolly. The film deals with a real subject that affects people in personal ways, a technique that art often implements. The emotional effect on its audience has a way of making you appreciate and understand what others feel. This film allows you to gain a perspective on what it is like to feel vulnerable about your appearance, even if you meet those social standards.
The amazing aspect of this cinematic experience is that it deals with real issues with the help of Dungeons and Dragons. The main character, Stan (Robin L’Houmeau) helps the injured souls with their personality and social ineptitudes through a series of social projects. Each person is presented with a miniature character that in the game has its own abilities and faults. These representations serve to help them better understand themselves, as well as to serve as their self-actualized selves. This narrative helps to merge the boundaries of the real world with a game that allows them to escape their physical state. By becoming the D&D characters, they are able to isolate their insecurities and play them out in a comfortable space.
Towards the end of the film, the loose ends are more or less tied up. The film attempts to deconstruct and break down people’s prejudices and forces them to face what thoughts they might hide. These thoughts are not new. For people suffering from their abnormalities, they know of them already. This film receives a 4 out of 5 stars. The message and the acting together culminate in a good message that helps others get a better perspective. The end of the film will have you looking at yourself in a new way, and you might even smile at the next person you see.
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Donnie Lopez is a gay Latino/Hispanic social and political commentator, writer, entertainment journalist, and professor. He writes on topics that affect Hispanic/Latino culture. With his novel insight, veracity, and sense of humor, he entertains as well as educates the world.