Director: Frank Bellocq | Screenplay: Frank Bellocq, Jean-Luc Cano | To emit: Kev Adams (Gaël), Camille Lellouche (Hannah), Audrey Pirault (Prune), Jacob Ganem (Pablo), ea | Time to play: 59 minutes | Year: 2022
You’ve probably seen main characters who get locked in a small space. Most likely it was in a sitcom. But there are also movies that use it, for example. Buried in which Ryan Reynolds lies in a buried coffin for an hour and a half. The comedy happy New Year it’s much lighter, but it also goes for the easy excuse: many conversations take you outside, because if they took place in the place where the characters are locked up, the movie would feel much longer than an hour.
It’s New Year’s Eve when Gaël and Hannah get stuck in an elevator. They don’t know each other, but they are stuck for the next few hours, because it will be a while before the mechanic is on site. They were each on their way to one of the parties being held in the building, so this is the last place they want to be. But being forced to spend time together ensures that you not only get to know each other, but also get to learn from each other.
If you, as a viewer, are locked in the elevator with two main characters, it is so nice that these are somewhat nice people. Hannah falls almost immediately as a rude and chronically irritated Parisian. Not long after, Gaël turns out not to be the most charming guy either, when it turns out that his light doesn’t shine much.
The script attempts to resolve this by showing that there is a reason Hannah is so aggressive. She has had some miseries in the field of love. But yes, no one finds a suitable partner right away, so she is not a reason to turn into a grumpy bitch. And she doesn’t explain why she makes up inappropriate and even racist nicknames at work for the coworkers she reports to her.
We also learn that Gael has at least tried his best, more or less, to pursue his dreams, to no avail. Yes, that generates some sympathy. But he doesn’t make it spontaneously brilliant. For example, he has tried to do stand-up comedy, but awkwardly reads jokes from a notebook and walks off stage after two failures. So he’s not smart or talented.
As Gaël and Hannah share their memories, there are occasional interactions with the outside world. An acquaintance who has been kicked out of one of the parties for being too drunk and not being able to help them out of the elevator. A child taking a moment to stand in the hallway. And some more. In themselves, these are pretty funny moments, possibly because these unseen characters are a welcome distraction from the conversations between Gaël and Hannah.
It’s also all uninteresting because nowhere is anything offered that you don’t know about. The characters stuck to each other learn what baggage they both carry and start to like each other because of it, escape attempts that fail; you’ve seen it all at least a dozen times before and you get nowhere happy New Year express something in such a way that it surprises you.
What the movie does is provide easy entertainment. The movie is only an hour long, technically not a hobbyist’s work and every once in a while it’s quite possible to shake off a little laugh. Perfect for when you want to see something that doesn’t last too long and isn’t gloomy. It’s not a classic that you’ll traditionally see every year around the last few days of the year from now, but for once it might happen.
happy New Year can be seen in Netflix.