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Happy Times (Sous-titres français)
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From the director of "Raise the Red Lantern" and "The Road Home," HAPPY TIMES is a charming, heartwarming comedy about the complex dynamics of relationships and the hysterical complexities inherent in making them work. In an attempt to impress a portly divorcée that has caught his eye, an unemployed factory worker poses as the wealthy manager of a non-existent hotel. Hoping that his fabricated success will lead to holy matrimony, he instead finds himself the guardian of the woman's blind stepdaughter. Now, as the lies get more complicated and the deception more difficult to sustain, the sweetyoung blind girl and the crazy middle-aged man find themselves forming an emotional friendship thatis as touching as it is unlikely.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've long been a film buff - my favorite films tend to be artsy and rather pedantic. Because of this, my family generally doesn't like to sit with me and watch movies.
So, when I started "Happy Times" last night, I thought they'd gradually wander off and find something else to do.
But, they were enthralled! This movie is the perfect balancing act between comedy, drama, and the enduring love we feel for those who have touched us in a special way.
This is a great, great movie.
Too many Americans shun foreign films. This is one they shouldn't miss. When the movie ended, my oldest son turned to me and said, "Wow. I think Hollywood has forgotten how to make movies like this!"
American filmmakers seem to think they have to descend to the baser instincts in order to make "adult" movies.
Yet, "Happy Times" - and countless other foreign films - never seem to sink to this level. These films are always excellent.
I think the issue is that Hollywood has forgotten how to write a good story; they've forgotten that basic human values can be enduring, can be entertaining, if only they would jettison their cynical baggage.
"Happy Times" will make you laugh and cry, smile and reflect with pride on the better angels of our nature.
Through all of this despair, the natural goodness of Benshan Zhao's character (also called "Zhao") shines through. His ruses get more complicated and difficult to sort out, but in the second-half of the film, his growing care and concern for "Little Wu" (skillfully portrayed by Dong Jie) is obvious.
I defy anyone to watch 'Happy Times' without tears streaming down your cheeks by the end. I definitely recommend a rental/purchase, but you may want to pair it with something a bit more upbeat or comedic. This is a heartbreaking movie.
I did some research and found out the ending on this version was NOT the original. The original was less dramatic and much shorter - though it looks like the director perferred the one on the DVD.
This is a movie that dances around deception -- the floweres are cut to look like more expensive roses, the large woman treats the girl one way with company and another when just her son is there. It also shows how MOTIVE is key to behaviours and is the difference between angels and wolves.
There is also a theme of what "modern capitalistic" society sees as having no value, and throws away -- so the bus, factory, seniors, and handicapped.
There is far more to this story then is on the surface. I highly recommend it.
THE ENDING - SPOILER
The original ending follows Zhao and "little" Wu walking to work. He finds the factory being demolished, but they continues into the "massage-room" where they sit while he reads her "father's" letter (the one Zhao wrote). As this happens, the camera moves away from them until they are in long shot -- with the room they made, surrounded by machinery taking the building apart with the inevitability that those machines will soon take the room apart too, and the film ends.
Both endings work.
The film stars a newcomer Dong Jie, formerly a student at a dance school in Beijing, as Wu Ying. Wu Ying is a blind girl, adopted by the reluctant step-mother, and living at her house while being treated very badly. Wu is just another trouble to the family, and she knows it.
Then, a middle-aged guy named Zhao steps in, as a possible husband to Wu's step-mother. Zhao, unemployed, is so desperate to marry her (step-mother), so keeps on lying about his social background, claiming he can offer plenty of money at the marriage, and even promises to "employ" Wu as one of staff at his imaginary hotel. Thus meet the two unlikely persons: a blind girl and a preposterously lying forty-something man.
We are to follow the relations between them; Zhao has to keep Wu "employed" even though she is a sulky girl, and the "hotel" exists no longer. However, Zhao, not an unkind chap, comes to feel sympathy for her while the girl Wu begins to understand what is going on around her.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SAY,BUT IT IS REALLY GOOD,I LIKE IT VERY MUCHPublished on Feb. 18 2004 by IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
Zhang Yimou's ironically titled *Happy Times* is really a remarkable tightrope act: it offers us some very sappy melodrama while commenting on its own artifices, and gets away... Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2003
This movie tops my all time list of Asian films. It covers the whole range of emotions - at times, it is absolutely hilarious, then absurd, and then very touching. Read morePublished on July 17 2003
A middle aged bachelor, Zhao is desperately seeking love and thinks he has found it in a woman who wants a large wedding. Read morePublished on July 15 2003 by Swederunner
Zhang Yimou is always at his best when he is portraying ordinary people facing overwhelming circumstances. Read morePublished on March 8 2003 by Eric Langager
I was so happy when I was in Blockbuster last evening and admist all the Hollywood mass-produced "big A-list star" [movies] I was able to find Zhang Yimou's recent import. Read morePublished on March 8 2003
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