Terribly Happy

Terribly Happy

U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz
Produced by Tina Dalhoff
Thomas Gammeltoft
Written by Henrik Ruben Genz (screenplay)
Dunja Gry Jensen (screenplay)
Erling Jepsen (novel)
Starring Jakob Cedergren
Lene Maria Christensen
Music by Kaare Bjerkø
Cinematography Jørgen Johansson
Edited by Kasper Leick
Release dates
  • October 2, 2008 (2008-10-02)
Running time
90 minutes
Country Denmark
Language Danish
Box office $165,000

Terribly Happy (Danish: Frygtelig lykkelig) is a 2008 Danish film directed by Henrik Ruben Genz, based on Erling Jepsen's novel of the same name from 2004.

Plot summary

Robert (Jakob Cedergren) -- a Copenhagen city policeman -- is sent for therapy, and then is assigned to a small town in South Jutland.[1] Robert is reassigned to a sleepy town in rural Denmark, and struggles to maintain order in his new jurisdiction, a lawless place where the only rules are those dictated -- and enforced -- by local thug and serial wife-beater Jorgen (Kim Bodnia). As the indifferent townspeople dismiss Robert's attempts at police work, he nurses a fixation with Jorgen's spouse, Ingerlise (Lene Maria Christensen).[2][3]



This film has been compared, in concept, to two films by the Coen brothers: Blood Simple (1985) and No Country for Old Men (2007).[4]

Critical reception

The film received strong reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows that 89% of 46 critics (all but one of the top 16 critics) gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.3 out of 10, concluding that "this knotty Danish noir thriller steers audiences into some nicely unexpected territory."[5] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 1–100 reviews from film critics, gives a rating score of 74 based on 18 reviews.[6]


The film was first shown at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in July 2008, in the Czech Republic, where it won the Crystal Globe (Grand Prize).[7]


Terribly Happy won several Robert Awards in 2009, including Best Danish Film, Best Director, Best Female Lead, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematographer.[8]

It was the official submission of Denmark for the category of Best Foreign Language Film for the 82nd Academy Awards in March 2010.[9]


  1. Holden, Stephen (5 February 2010). "Not Exactly a Danish Grover's Corners". New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  2. Olsen, Mark (7 February 2010). "Danish 'Terribly Happy' full of odd happenings". LA Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. Murray, Noel (4 February 2010). "Terribly Happy". The A.V. Club. The Onion, Inc. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  4. "IFFBoston Screening Series: Terribly Happy", Independent Film Festival of Boston, March 4, 2010. "Quickly spiraling into an intense fable reminiscent of the Coen Brothers’ BLOOD SIMPLE and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, director Henrik Ruben Genz displays a unique and sometimes macabre vision of the darkest depths to which people will go to achieve a sense of security and belonging."
  5. "Terribly Happy (Frygtelig lykkelig)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  6. "Terribly Happy". Metacritic. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  7. "Terribly Happy wins Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe". Screen International. July 13, 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  8. "Frygtelig lykkelig". Danish Film Institute. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  9. "65 films contend for foreign-language Oscar". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. October 15, 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2014.

Further reading

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