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Happiness in Retrospect

By Alan Ng | July 31, 2020

Sometimes, a short film is just meant to present an idea in hopes that the idea simply lingers in our minds long after its over. That’s how I felt watching Eli Hart’s Happiness in Retrospect.

Iain Connell plays Leonard, a burnt-out greeting card writer. It’s not just his job that’s the source of his burnout, but his personal life too. He no longer finds excitement with his wife, Fran (Lucy Lowe), or children.

Later, when Leonard meets Mavis (Imogen Morris), while Christmas tree shopping, he develops that all-too-common forty-year itch. He’s smitten, and in an instant, his spirits are reinvigorated…until he gets home. Desperately, Leonard finds a reason to exchange the tree he got and see Mavis again and again and again.

“He no longer finds excitement with his wife…or children.”

I’ll start by saying that Happiness in Retrospect is beautifully shot…once you get past the opening office meeting (I’m being nitpicky). Tonally, cinematographer Jody Whittle-Wyeth captures Leonard’s overall mood with muted colors set against shot compositions that does nothing but enhance the overall storytelling.

Story-wise, I can’t help but admire how subtle and straightforward Leonard’s journey is. We’re essentially watching the prelude to an affair, and it’s not done in a big Hollywood fashion, but in a way that says, “this could be you.” Iain Connell plays him plain and bland…again, “this could be you.” Though Leonard is obviously male, the dilemma knows no gender. The ending wraps things up perfectly. It’s these reasons why Happiness in Retrospect is a fantastic and insightful film.

Happiness in Retrospect (2020)

Directed and Written: Eli Hart

Starring: Iain Connell, Imogen Morris, Lucy Lowe, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Happiness in Retrospect Image

"…essentially watching the prelude to an affair..."

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