Happy FKN Sunshine

From the producers of Poor Agnes comes the provocatively titled Happy FKN Sunshine feels, an angry indie with a vague connection to its story.

Alternating between a coming-of-age drama, a dark comedy and a musical (?!), Happy FKN Sunshine roots itself in a small town with an economy that relies on blue collar mill workers. They face discouraging sinking feeling when an industrial strike halts work.  While the adults worry about the future, the younger demographic distracts themselves with their personal interests.  For Will Weston (Matt Close), that distraction is music as he pursues his dreams to achieve fame with a band.  The band (where the film’s title comes from) is made up of musicians who seem just as passionate as Will, and share the same pessimism targeted towards their struggling town.

The movie’s production was inspired by true stories of working class towns (notably in Northern Ontario and Manitoba) who face unpredictable circumstances when their economy fails, although the movie’s execution makes me unsure that the filmmakers have a direct connection to the material. However to achieve a vacuumed environment, Happy FKN Sunday has been shot entirely in North Bay, Ontario.  My personal connections to North Bay aside (spent three years living there and loved every minute), it’s a location choice that couldn’t be more in sync to the film’s aesthetics and Derek Diorio’s directorial vision which is reminiscent of other films like Billy Elliot and We Are the Best!.

However, the negative attitudes that drive the humour and support the characterizations in Happy FKN Sunshine are, well, crappy.  There’s a running current of cruelty that’s usually laughing at people in need rather than empathizing with them;  especially with those experiencing issues with their mental health.  Even if the set-up is initially pitched as absurd (such as the band’s bass player who insists high profile rock stars have engaged in foreplay with him), the results are usually unapologetically inconsiderate from other characters.  The band’s lead singer Vince, played with impressive commitment by Connor Rueter, is consistently guilty of being a jerk to a detrimental degree.  The remarks are in line with the character, but Happy FKN Sunshine doesn’t know when to stop doubling down.

Though the performances are terrific and the music is hot, the relentless nature of Happy FKN Sunshine puts a severe damper on its strengths.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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