Ironically, Happily Ever After bothers movie goers by the time the credits roll.
Torontonian filmmaker Heather (played by Janet Montgomery) returns to her cozy hometown to be reminded of how she’s outgrown the community. Her old friends are fixated on memories of yesteryear and cheesy adults earnestly grin from ear to ear. Heather, jaded and cynical, can barely muster anyone while she tends to her ailing father Walt (played by Peter Firth).
Meanwhile, the city girl reconnects with modest country gal Sarah Ann (played by Sara Paxton, the film’s only saving grace). Sarah Ann is preparing for her wedding and begs Heather to be the videographer. After much apprehension, scowling Heather agrees. This cues nostalgia to be trudged up along with forgotten romances. This also means the film structures its melodrama according to a predictable building-a-wedding story formula.
While Happily Ever After isn’t particularly memorable, its director Joan Carr-Wiggin is. I remember watching her farce If I Were You, and being strangely entertained by it. It was by no means flawless, but I frequently use the film as a reference. Happily Ever After doesn’t offer much to pull from other than a bushel of half-baked emotions mixed together to make an inexplicable, intolerable experience.
As she did in If I Were You, Joan Carr-Wiggin sweeps up broad elements and applies them to the drama and humour in her latest work. I truly believe this filmmaker has the ability to make grand spectacles out of awkward moments. I’m sure she’ll eventually strike that project that inhabits the winning combination Carr-Wiggin has been looking for. As of right now though, Happily Ever After’s outrageousness appears too late in the game. Movie goers receive mixed signals throughout the film, which causes confusion around whether we should be seriously contemplating the emotions or having a laugh. Since the film has so many inconsistencies through its phoney presentation, the two hour runtime is especially gruelling.
Throughout the film’s third act, the muddling of drama and comedy come to a head. It’s a bittersweet result that sums up the movie: Happily Ever After may have a lot going on, but it all amounts to nothing.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie