Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Happy New Year

Dark, funny and deeply affecting, Happy New Year revolves around a group of physically and mentally wounded veterans in an isolated residential rehabilitation facility as they try to pick up the threads of their prewar lives.

Nov 16, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1367358-Happy_New_Year_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Newly transferred from Washington, DC's Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to a smaller (read: less expensive) facility, Staff Sergeant Cole Lewis (Michael Cuomo) is scarred both inside and out. Unable to walk, his once-handsome face puckered by burns and soul seared by the deaths of the men under his command, Lewis is a man adrift: His girlfriend has decamped for less troubled waters, his father—a former marine—rarely visits and his deeply devoted mother is a fluttering bundle of nerves at a loss for how to reconnect with her damaged son. There's no doubting her good intentions when she arrives at Lewis' bedside bearing his battered childhood teddy bear Timmy, dressed in fatigues with Lewis' Purple Heart pinned to his chest. Even he sees as much, but as a grown man he needs more than a stuffed toy, no matter what its sentimental value, to soothe his haunted mind.

And against all odds, he finds it at the nameless rehabilitation center in which the majority of K. Lorrel Manning's first feature, based on his own play, unfolds…at least for a while. Once Lewis gets over his initial macho dismay at discovering a shortage of beds has relegated him to the PTSD ward ("You put me in with crazies," he mutters bitterly), he discovers that he and the head cases are more alike than different, starting with roommate Jerome (J.D. Williams), whose sweet nature and unaffected friendliness lie lightly over a mind tied into tormented knots.

There's a lot of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Happy New Year, minus Ken Kesey's knee-jerk counterculture rage at any and all mainstream institutions: There's plenty wrong with the rehab facility charged with Lewis' care, but it's more about understaffing and insufficient funds than indifference or laziness. Manning's strength as a writer is that he's more interested in quiet tragedy than finger-pointing or going for the shocking revelation, which isn't to say that Happy New Year's ending isn't a kick in the gut. It is…but it's also totally earned and painfully believable.


Film Review: Happy New Year

Dark, funny and deeply affecting, Happy New Year revolves around a group of physically and mentally wounded veterans in an isolated residential rehabilitation facility as they try to pick up the threads of their prewar lives.

Nov 16, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1367358-Happy_New_Year_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Newly transferred from Washington, DC's Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to a smaller (read: less expensive) facility, Staff Sergeant Cole Lewis (Michael Cuomo) is scarred both inside and out. Unable to walk, his once-handsome face puckered by burns and soul seared by the deaths of the men under his command, Lewis is a man adrift: His girlfriend has decamped for less troubled waters, his father—a former marine—rarely visits and his deeply devoted mother is a fluttering bundle of nerves at a loss for how to reconnect with her damaged son. There's no doubting her good intentions when she arrives at Lewis' bedside bearing his battered childhood teddy bear Timmy, dressed in fatigues with Lewis' Purple Heart pinned to his chest. Even he sees as much, but as a grown man he needs more than a stuffed toy, no matter what its sentimental value, to soothe his haunted mind.

And against all odds, he finds it at the nameless rehabilitation center in which the majority of K. Lorrel Manning's first feature, based on his own play, unfolds…at least for a while. Once Lewis gets over his initial macho dismay at discovering a shortage of beds has relegated him to the PTSD ward ("You put me in with crazies," he mutters bitterly), he discovers that he and the head cases are more alike than different, starting with roommate Jerome (J.D. Williams), whose sweet nature and unaffected friendliness lie lightly over a mind tied into tormented knots.

There's a lot of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Happy New Year, minus Ken Kesey's knee-jerk counterculture rage at any and all mainstream institutions: There's plenty wrong with the rehab facility charged with Lewis' care, but it's more about understaffing and insufficient funds than indifference or laziness. Manning's strength as a writer is that he's more interested in quiet tragedy than finger-pointing or going for the shocking revelation, which isn't to say that Happy New Year's ending isn't a kick in the gut. It is…but it's also totally earned and painfully believable.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

War Story
Film Review: War Story

Infuriatingly slow, enervating and basically empty contemplation of war's impact, and a waste of the formidable talent of a gallant Catherine Keener. More »

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here