Alessandro Comodin’s ‘Happy Times Will Come Soon’ at New Directors-New Films, brought to us by MoMA and Lincoln Center Film Society.
Have you ever opened a gift from a friend and were not sure what to say about it because you weren’t sure what it was? It’s beautiful, but is it art? Is it functional? Do I display it as a treasured antique or do I fill it with candy in it and put it on my desk? Your gut reaction is positive, but you aren’t sure why. It reminds you of something from your past. Is that why your friend gave it to you; did he know it would affect you this way?
That’s how I felt after watching Alessandro Comodin’s I Tempi Felici Verranno Presto. Happy Times Will Come Soon is a gift that I am still trying to figure out what to do with. Part of me wants to smash it open and see what’s inside it, and another part of me wants to put it somewhere and never touch it again, satisfied with the feeling it gives me when I look at it.
In the beginning of the film, two young men are escaping something and I’m not sure what it is but someone is chasing them with guns. As they flee deeper into the woods you can feel the figurative shackles that had been binding them fall away and the forest take them in, providing for them with berries, small game, mushrooms, and shelter. It’s as if they could live there forever and never have another care in the world.
With no real transition we’re suddenly listening to modern day townspeople tell a story that seems part folklore and part urban legend about a half-human wolf, a sick young woman and her heartbroken father. She, too, has fled a shackled existence for life in the woods; her illness is obviously serious but she’s decided to reject modern medicine and go live with her father for awhile, breath some good clean mountain air and see if nature can provide a cure.
She finds a project to fill her days and it’s a curious one; she begins digging a deep hole in the woods, one that connects to a cavern that eventually takes her to a new, sunny world. But the wolf is there, and whether or not he means to do her harm is a question that probably can’t be answered.
At first I had no idea what to make of this film, and then a theory came to me in flash, as if it were always there, even before I watched it. I’m not going to share it, because this film is a gift that has to be opened and interpreted individually, but I’ll say that I thought a lot about time, instinct, and death as a combined object rather than separate entities. For me, problems with finding a meaning in I Tempi Felici Verranno Presto disappear without the burden of time and space, or the dividing line between life and death. Free your mind and allow instinct to tell you whether this gift is a candy dish or a valuable artifact.
The film is mostly very quiet, the dialogue sparse, but it’s dotted with four very diverse songs; one from the 1940s, Cammindando Sotto La Pioggia, Auld Triangle, by the Pogues, a song called Tarpin from a band from Brussels, and a punk song with the recurring line, “Fuck Schopenhauer”.
I Tempi Felici Verranno Presto is Unusual with a capital U, so as the Boy Scouts say before they go into the woods, “Be Prepared.”