50 Indie Movies You Need to See Before You Die

Happiness (1998)

Director: Todd Solondz
Stars: Dylan Baker, Jane Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jon Lovitz, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Ashley, Ben Gazzara, Louise Lasser, Camryn Manhem, Rufus Reed, Cynthia Stevenson

There's no better film out there that paints us a portrait of suburbia gone wrong than Todd Solondz's twisted drama Happiness. In it, Dylan Baker plays a pedophile psychiatrist named Bill Maplewood who rapes two of his son's classmates during the movie's first act. But instead of filming this movie like a horror flick or a thriller, Solondz presents it all in a way that is reminiscent of a '50s sitcom with its sweeping music, tucked-in shirts, and heart-to-heart conversations between a father and son about penis size. Hell, daddy dearest even offers to measure his son's for him.

The conversation ends with Bill tussling his son's hair as he goes back to happily reading his magazine. The repressed psyches of all of these characters is what is really disturbing as the picture-perfect middle-class suburban life falls under the microscope of a director who seems hell-bent on showing off society's seedy underbelly. —JS

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