SHORT FILM REVIEW
MY HAPPY PLACE
A 7 year old girl learns about life during a road trip with her father across the U.S.
THE PERFECT AMERICAN family today is a pipe dream for most people. Something to strive for, yes, but achievable? Rarely. Yet, if you go back in time, that dream seems like it was easier to accomplish. There were lots of fears in the sixties, but that ideal life was right there. So close you could reach out and grab it, and at first, that's what Anna's family seemed to be doing—living the American dream. Anna is a first-generation German-American, and My Happy Place is her recollection of her youth. Specifically when that perfect life seemed to slip away.
SHE COULD FINALLY LEARN TO DRIVE, AND IF SHE COULD DO THAT, EVERYTHING WOULD BE ALRIGHT.
This short film from filmmaker Devin Scott starts as a story of perfection and goodness, but that illusion doesn't last. There's Anna, her father, who is a traveling preacher, her mother, who was a small-town beauty queen, and her Oma. Life is good, and Anna and her family seemingly have it all. That is, until just before Christmas one year when her father moves out due to an affair.
Shortly after, Anna's Oma dies from what Anna describes as a broken heart, and depression follows. How could her father do such a thing? How could he destroy their perfect family? Anna's depression gives rise to a deep desire. Specifically, learning to drive at Autopia - an attraction at Disneyland. So when her father decides to plan a cross-country road trip for him and Anna, she's completely delighted to find out the drive ends in a trip to Disneyland and a visit to Autopia. She could finally learn to drive, and if she could only do that, everything would be alright.
I FOUND MYSELF ACTUALLY CARING ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THIS SHORT FILM...
Where dreams happen, three words sum up how I took in this short film. Even when the content was anything but dreamy, the tapestry of imagery, sounds, and Anna's voice-over was hypnotic. Dream-like. Even at what should have been the height of Anna's journey and is instead devastated had what I would call a "Disney wash over" as My Happy Place drove itself to its sad conclusion. For what is essentially eighteen minutes of classic footage, My Happy Place is pretty dramatic stuff. I found myself actually caring about the outcome of this film about halfway through. That's something even the big studio giants can have trouble accomplishing with their audience.
MY HAPPY PLACE DINGS ALL THE RIGHT BELLS. PERIOD.
Devin Scott has delivered a short film that is so much more than its individual parts. It's visually interesting. It's dramatic and even holds a certain charm that you may not quite understand. As sad as this story gets at times, there is always a message of hope present. Things got worse before they got better. Does that pretty much sum up anything in life that's worth anything at all? I highly recommend this short gem. My Happy Place dings all the right bells. Period.
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