Happyness Is A Warm Gun (Glück ist ein warmes Gewehr) (2018)

Happyness Is A Warm Gun (Glück ist ein warmes Gewehr) first published by EyeforFilm

Founded in 2015, the Swiss ‘top ten collectiv’ specialises in theatre and performance art – and while Happyness Is A Warm Gun (Glück ist ein warmes Gewehr) is their first feature film, its limited set and finite ensemble of players (Patricija Bronić, Johanna Dähler, Simon Labhart, Max Roenneberg, Julian Anatol Schneider) ensures that it remains a stagey production. Only the long continuous takes, with the camera slowly panning and tilting through a confined bunker-like setting and necessarily keeping whatever or whomever it passes in queasy close-up, give the illusion of cinema to what otherwise feels like an improvised, experimental play. 

Our five actors, drifting in and out of shot and sometimes facing and addressing their co-director Mirko Borscht’s camera, seem in search not just of an author, but of a scenario and the odd drink, as they swap rôles and genders and stories, while using whatever props (bread, an axe, drinking glasses, mannequins, pig masks, a swing, a doll and a rifle) are to hand. It is a transgressive mess, meandering incoherently from the topics of pig herds, anti-Semitism, letter-writing, workers’ revolution and infanticide, and finishing at a point as seemingly arbitrary as its beginning. The sound design, conjuring a vivid world outside, is superb, but trapped as we are together with these characters in a claustrophobic, cloying space that is falling to ruin before our very eyes to no obvious end, we can either recognise a reflection of our own fragmenting, decadent society in all its pointless absurdity – or we can just wish that we could escape to whatever is beyond those concrete walls, perhaps even to another, altogether more rewarding film than this one. 

© Anton Bitel