Terribly Happy: Gloom and Crime in Denmark

After waving a gun around at home, young Copenhagen cop Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is shipped to the South Jutland flatlands to cool off as marshal of a small town. Surprising no one who has watched such a migration onscreen before, he finds amused villagers with a highly developed talent for collusion and a tendency to get overly familiar with their new impartial authority. Within minutes, a married woman, Ingerlise, with a concussed Rita Rudner affect, sidles into his office and delivers a spiel that's part blowzy flirtation and part ambiguous report of spousal abuse. The paunchy, cowboy-hatted wife-beater, Jørgen, has the run of the place, dark deeds unfold on the marshy outskirts, and everyone's OK with it. Hansen peers out cautiously from his innocent stubble-dusted face as if afraid of being found out, as director Henrik Ruben Genz's simmering stew sees a man who made one violent mistake get ruined anew by genially corrupt yokels. Cedergren is a little too bland, but that works with Hansen's air of haplessness and sets him apart from the colorful locals. His self-inflicted reckoning is a horizon visible throughout the movie, and the bog outside of town is a thudding but effective metaphor of willful repression. That quagmire, where incriminating items (like cars and bodies) may be secretly dumped, poses the double-edged-sword solution to Hansen's despair over the past: Just forget about it. 

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