Happily, Even After
Photos and Video
Unsu Lee's charming Happily, Even After is a modern-day fairy tale that will steal your heart. Jake (Jason Behr) is a directionless artist who can't seem to get his life together -- at one point cycling through six jobs in six weeks. Though brilliant, he can't commit to art, or to the idea of believing in anything. By contrast, his sister Elizabeth (Fay Masterson) is controlling and focused, with a high-powered job. Unable to cope with Jake anymore, she hires Katie (Marina Black), a tart-tongued waitress who does community theater on the side, to take on the role of "fairy godmother" for her shiftless brother. Katie sees enough potential in Jake to want to reach him, bring him out of his malaise, and make him happy. It's a great set-up for a classic romantic comedy, but this story has a twist in it that turns the old conventions on their heads. Behr and Black are strong and believable in the leads, and Lee makes the most of his hometown San Francisco setting. Beautiful 35mm cinematography and original music by Kid Galahad distinguish this wonderful film that will have even the most cynical among us believing in love.
Director's Statement Collapse
Three years ago, I was drawn to Rebecca Sonnenshine's script because of its accurate analysis of the ways in which siblings can get in the way of each others' development. Having a younger brother of my own, I could appreciate how difficult it is for siblings to communicate with each other, through no fault of their own. But what made the film universal for me was that it was also a love story, exploring the connections between love and hope, fate and coincidence, in a seductively ambiguous manner. The film is set in San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and a perfect backdrop for this contemporary fairy tale. I deliberately stayed away from showcasing the city with postcard familiarity, for this would have destroyed its unique charm. Instead, by only subtly portraying it, I hope to draw people's attention to the magic and beauty that exists in the most ordinary things. In the end, the audience will have to decide for themselves what they want to believe.
Film Information Collapse
[HAPPI] | 2004 | 88 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (Happily, Even After)
About the Director(s)Collapse
Unsu Lee was born in Singapore in 1972. He majored in philosophy at Williams College in Massachusetts, graduating magna cum laude. Between 1993 and 1996, he served in the Singapore military, as required by law. In 1996, he moved to San Francisco to attend film school and soon afterwards founded Hotbed, a production company with fellow director Stokes McIntyre. In 2001, he directed (together with Paul Barnett) his first feature-length documentary, Confessions of a Burning Man, about the legendary alternative community that gathers in a Nevada desert. Confessions premiered in New York at the Angelika Film Center in February 2004 and continues to tour around the country. Happily, Even After is his first narrative feature film. Lee lives in San Francisco.