In the perverse, backwards-moving world of Happy End, babies shrink and reenter the womb, horses gallop in reverse and virginities are restored. This outlandish and devilishly inventive Czechoslovak comedy is unlike any other reverse-chronological film I’ve seen. The story begins with a doomed butcher’s execution and ends with his infanthood, but the plot isn’t just structured in reverse; rather, every individual scene genuinely unfolds in reverse, right down to the dialogue (every answer is followed by a question), the action (instead of being thrown from a window, a man’s body floats up from the pavement), and even the food (characters expel whole cookies from their mouths bite by bite).
Yes, it’s disorienting (ever watch a beheading in reverse?). Yes, it’s a bizarre stylistic gambit, but what elevates Happy End to absurdist comic genius is the voiceover narration.
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