The Happiest Girl in the World (2009)


The Happiest Girl in the World Storyline

Delia, a young Romanian girl, comes to Bucharest with her parents to collect a prize she has won in a contest organized by a soft-drinks company. The prize is a beautiful new car. All Delia has to do now is appear in front of the camera in a commercial. All goes well until it becomes clear that Delia and her parents have very different ideas about what to do with the new car. Meanwhile, the contest’s sponsor needs a radiant prize-winner with a gleaming smile. A wicked satire and a psychological portrait of a society perverted by its slavery to capitalism and consumerism.—Warsaw Film Festival

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The Happiest Girl in the World Movie Reviews

A family drama, an absurdist comedy, a spot-on capitalist critique.

A family drama, an absurdist comedy, a spot-on critique of capitalism. All of these and more.

Caught between a typically rough-and-ready film crew, supercilious ad agency reps, creepy client, and her self-absorbed parents – starting her period, during an historic heat wave, forced to drink ever-growing quantities of an increasingly vile “fruit drink” while endlessly reciting an inane script as afternoon light decays into night – 18-year-old Delia Fratila is the new-found star of the latest commercial for a worthless product in newly capitalist Romania.

For his feature-film debut, Radu Jude drew from a story from one of his first commercial shootings, in which a teen-age girl from a poor village was supposed to look happily at the camera and tell the world how she sent in three juice bottle labels and won a car. He saw the girl was not happy at all, and finally asked her if something was wrong. An inspired film emerged.

Andrea Bosneag is a breakthrough discovery as Delia. In a seemingly effortless, perfect performance, she captures the beauty, ugliness, wisdom, and foolishness of adolescence while shifting expertly between 18-year-old Delia and Delia-as-emerging-actress.

Simple & efficient

I saw this Romanian film at Berlinale and was amazed at how much it achieves with a simple plot and a very limited budget. The film follows Delia, a teenage girl who, after winning a brand new car in some kind of sweepstakes held by a fruit juice brand, has to film a fruit juice commercial in which she has to introduce herself as the winner – the happiest girl in the world, and drink a bottle of advertised juice. That’s it as much as the plot is concerned basically, and though it sounds trivial, it is at times hilarious and at times very dramatic. The director based the film after his own experience when shooting a similar commercial with a somewhat difficult girl. He uses long static takes that seemed like a bit of a gimmick at first, but after seeing the excellent actors go at each other in the more dramatic scenes, I completely forgot about it and it made perfect sense to let them do it all in one take.

So long story short, it’s a great simple film that really engaged me at the dramatic parts while still making me laugh out loud a lot. See it if you get a chance!

Winning isn’t everything

The film starts as a girl and her parents are driving to Bucharest. The girl is going there because she sent in a number of labels from some juice bottles and won a car that she is now supposed to collect. Part of the contract is that she agrees to be an actor in a commercial the juice seller is making, so she’s a little nervous.

Using a very small cast this film uses this girl and the car she won as the backing line for a couple extra tangents. It makes for a very interesting combination – small, simple, completely believable and totally adorable.

The lead (and title) character being a somewhat insecure girl in her late teens comes across as a typical teenager – strong willed, happy to do what she’s being told (as long as it helps her to get where she wants) and a volatile barrel of emotions. She’s the anchor that keeps the film in place and the actress playing her pulls it off very well. The added story arcs complete the film and give room for a nice pace.

All in all, very enjoyable.

8 out of 10 shots taken.