Directed by Derek Diorio and written by Ryan Keller and James Gordon Ross, Happy FKN Sunshine is set in a small, provincial Canadian town. The nameless town has one mill, which in fact, is how the community was given life. Nowadays, it is the biggest job maker, but the pay is terrible, so most people fall firmly into the lower class. Every adult in town worries about the future, while most of the teens dream of escaping.
For Will (Matt Close), his chance at getting out once and for all is tied to his band, the titular “Happy FKN Sunshine.” He writes a lot of the songs and plays the lead guitar. Vocalist Vince (Connor Rueter) is an egotist but does know his stuff. River (Maxime Lauzon) is the drummer. The band is coming together but is in desperate need of a bassist. This is where Artie (Dana Hodgson) comes in. Artie is a nerd prone to lies — or is he — about all the musical acts he has played with and partied alongside. But, frustratingly for Vince, Artie is a darn good bass player. His uncle, Eddy (Ted Dykstra), also happens to have lots of connections in the music industry as he is a producer and music store proprietor. So, Artie’s in, though this does cause friction.
“…frustratingly for Vince, Artie is a darn good bass player.”
Will’s sister, Ronnie (Mattea Brotherton), is his biggest supporter. Despite being estranged from their abusive father, she buys Will a new guitar and even becomes their manager. Unfortunately, Ronnie is a drug addict who sells weed. As such, she is not the most reliable person. Can Happy FKN Sunshine beat the odds and make a big splash with their music?
Happy FKN Sunshine seems like a typical small-time musical act that wants to make it big narrative. However, Ross and Keller’s screenplay is much more interested in the main character’s interpersonal relationships, especially between Will and Ronnie. Her love and support for her brother are never in question. Neither is how much Will values his sister’s input and ideas… at least when she’s not strung out and can offer useful advice. This dynamic is the beating heart of the picture, and thanks to the calibrated writing, it works on every level.
That isn’t to imply the other characters aren’t well-rounded, as everyone save for River is. Vince might be a bully, but Artie is obnoxious. Plus, it turns out his home life isn’t all that great, either. Eddy is talented, though his alcohol consumption leads to issues. By the end, it turns out Artie has the most complete arc, even if it is unexpected and downbeat. That the filmmakers realistically portray these characters helps the film stand out from similar stories.
"…the stars are Matt Close and Mattea Brotherton."