Review: The Happy Housewife (2010)

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Steve Rhodes

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Mar 3, 2011, 10:01:09 PM3/3/11
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THE HAPPY HOUSEWIFE


A film review by Steve Rhodes

Copyright 2010 Steve Rhodes

RATING (0 TO ****): ***

As THE HAPPY HOUSEWIFE (DE GELUKKIGE HUISVROUW) starts, the title isn't
the least bit ironic. A housewife named Lea (Carice van Houten from
BLACK BOOK) does appear to have it all. A gorgeous woman with an
extremely handsome and apparently wealthy husband, they live a luxurious
life together in a neighborhood of mansions in a lush suburb of
Amsterdam.

A woman who enjoys sex even more than her husband Harry (Waldemar
Torenstra), Lea works as a flight attendant. With such an occupation,
she likes to renew her membership in the mile high club with her husband
when he is on one of her flights. After one such assignation in the
plane's bathroom, he shocks her by suggesting that they add a baby to
their six year old marriage. She assumes that he means adopting, but, as
it turns out, he expects her to have the child, painful though it may
be.

At this point in the narrative, the movie's title begins to turn ironic,
with the story oscillating between comedy and tragedy. No scene better
illustrates this duality than the long birthing scene. Lea, who plans on
having the baby at home with the help of a midwife when the times come,
starts off her labor by watching porn with her husband since she heard
than eroticism can hasten her dilation. Needless to say, this plan soon
goes hopeless awry.

>From an erotic comedy, the movie takes a sharp turn into a tragedy as
Lea's postpartum depression causes her to have a full psychotic break
with reality. With shades of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, this last
part of the story is never as effective or moving as the first part.
Even though it is uneven, the movie is a touching one that is well worth
seeing.

THE HAPPY HOUSEWIFE runs 1:40. The film is in Dutch with English
subtitles

The film is being shown as part of San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival
(www.Cinequest.org), which runs March 1-13, 2011.

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