Double Happy: The Anatomy of a Tragic Screw-Up

Double Happy: The Anatomy of a Tragic Screw-Up

Double Happy is an unusually observant short film written and directed by the young New Zealand filmmaker Shahir Daud, which has been selected for presentation at the Montreal International Film Festival, HOF Film Festival (Germany), Interfilm (Berlin), CFC Film Festival (Canada), Winterthur Film Festival (Switzerland), and Show Me Shorts (New Zealand).

A film of rare quality and power, Double Happy is a lovely film to look at and it possesses a high level of technical excellence. At its heart, the film is a character drama, relying on expertly presented profiles to build its story, showing, rather than telling, the essential details about its characters in order to relate their motivations. Finally, it displays a subtlety and patience in unfolding its drama, only to upend you at the climax in a shocking fashion.

Double Happy presents a detailed look at the inevitable emergence of a huge social fuck-up, the slow buildup to the moment you eternally wish you could take back. It’s been said that almost all extremely terrible, destructive actions have their origins in positive desires, and in this simple drama about four New Zealand teenagers in tne 1990s, we are, in a very shocking fashion, made witness to that truism.

If there is one particular feature that makes Double Happy stand out, it would be that it is an unusually observant film about young people, their shy gestures and bold dares, as well as the sometimes very strange characteristics of their group dynamics; the constantly fluid shifting of in-group and out-group designations achieved and enforced through secrets and put-downs. At this age, one discovers that even when you care, you can end up trampling on one another out of simple inexperience, fear and carelessness. Double Happy paints an impressively clear and nuanced picture in which the emotional and physical denigration of its protagonist slowly builds, causing his anger to mount and ultimately leading to its tragic misdirection.

Double Happy: The Anatomy of a Tragic Screw-Up

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