Unhappily Ever After

It is rare that comic strips ever get anywhere past the newspaper, let alone get a movie. Yoshiie Gouda’s “Happily Ever After” is one of those rarities that make to the big screen. Bolt your table to the floor because this one’s going to hurt.

The comic strip is about a married couple, wife Yukie and ex-yakuza and unemployed husband Isao, where the punch line is Yukie saying or doing something to Isao that makes him mad enough to flip over their dinner table. Everyone tells Yukie that she should leave Isao, but she loves him so much because he saved her life once upon a time. Director Yukihiko Tsustumi took that story and added a semi-love story between Yukie and her employer and an “I’m pregnant, honey” story into the mix for the film.

“Happily Ever After” is labeled as a dark comedy. The dark part is most present in that Yukie’s father is arrested at the beginning (later they’re reunited). Isao spends all of his time and Yukie’s money on pachinko, and Yukie had a troubled childhood. The comedy part of this equation is the iconic Isao flipping over the table; only here it’s shown in Matrix style slow motion. Not mention the sound effect used when Isao head-butts people is more laugh-inducing than painful. The main leads do a good job portraying their characters. Miki Nakatani (Ringu 1 and 2) plays the devoted, but airheaded wife well, and Hiroshi Abe pulls off the constantly angry ex-yakuza who rarely talks role just as solidly.

The story isn’t much to write about and this is where the movie falls apart. It’s your basic love conquers all story with a tragedy thrown in the second half that’s supposed to show how much Isao really loves Yukie. The second half, where Yukie has flashbacks of her childhood and how she met Isao, is the weakest part of the movie. It completely stops the film cold, drags the story, and seems out of place. These flashbacks do show how Isao saved Yukie’s life, but at this point, it’s way too late in the movie and feels like it was thrown in at the last second. It takes you out of the story and makes you look more at your watch than the movie.

It’s hard to recommend this movie. The acting’s good, the story sounds interesting and the actors do a very good job. The poor second half and lack of any actual comedy makes “Happily Ever After” a rental only for those who enjoy foreign films. Everyone else can do much worse. While it’s not the worse foreign movie ever made, but it doesn’t make good on its potential.

About Rocco Sansone 841 Articles
Rocco Sansone is a “man of many interests.” These include anime/manga, video games, tabletop RPGs, YA literature, 19th century literature, the New York Rangers, and history. Among the things and places he would like to see before he dies are Japan, half of Europe, and the New York Rangers win another Stanley Cup.

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