Happiness review

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Todd Solondz's latest has caused much controversy in America, having been dropped by its distributor because of objections to one of the more taboo-breaking storylines, involving paedophilia. But ignore the furore, for Happiness is acutely funny and poignant.

Solondz brings to the surface the repressed desires of American suburbanites. Set in New Jersey, Happiness cleverly weaves together a number of diverse strands. At the core are the three Jordan sisters: non-achieving Joy (Jane Adams), content housewife Trish (Cynthia Stevenson) and successful novelist Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle). But the writer is receiving obscene phone calls from neighbour Allen (Philip Seymour Hoffman), while Trish's husband Bill (Dylan Baker) is becoming sexually fascinated by his son's pre-pubescent male classmates.

What links these disparate characters is that all are searching, however misguidedly, for meaningful connections to other people. Superbly acted and smoothly structured, Happiness climaxes with a sobering confession from a paedophile to his son. A brilliant scene in an outstanding drama.

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