By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on February 6, 2020
DON’T be deterred by the cheesy trailer and poster thinking that H is for Happiness – filmed entirely in Albany – is just another kids film.
A recent reviewer of the movie described it as “rare” type of cinema and I’m obliged to agree.
When I sat down with dozens of extras and contributors for the first Albany screening last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I had spoken with the producers and actors about the movie for previous news stories published here, but I was still quite in the dark about it all.
What I saw was certainly not what I expected.
As a kid, seeing kids being the main protagonist in a movie was always pretty cool, because hey, that could be you on-screen.
As a teen and as a 20-something, seeing kids as the protagonist could be slightly painful to watch – the at-times annoying overacting, predictable dialogue and the disconnect you felt from the character due to age difference.
Daisy Axon, the lead of H is for Happiness, managed to completely dispel all of these things in her tween character Candice Phee.
Candice is full of cute, unapologetic quirks and exudes optimism to keep a positive front for her family, but not so painfully as to cause the audience to dislike her.
You can’t help but empathise and sympathise with her youthful disappointment in her family’s disconnect caused by a tragedy, as well as see what Candice does not fully understand – the pains of depression, loss, broken relationships, financial strain and all of those adult things.
But one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie is that these big issues are not forced down your throat to teach you a lesson; they are quietly ticking in the background.
It is true to how a young person sees the world – they see the problem but might not see the full picture.
Candice is everything that everyone should be; someone who is kind, non-judgmental, accepting and unflinching in her care for others.
Axon’s performance as Candice is truly beautiful.
It’s the subtleties of this movie that make it so great and the young actors who hold themselves with ease.
You almost don’t notice the big names of Richard Roxburgh, Joel Jackson, Deborah Mailman and Miriam Margolyes, because Axon and Wesley Patten – Candice’s counterpart in the other lead role of Douglas – don’t need their support.
These two young actors have a beautiful, delicate, innocent yet insightful relationship and chemistry on-screen that I am yet to see in cinema.
And it is because of this that sets H is For Happiness apart from any family movie I’ve ever seen.
Certainly a film the whole family can enjoy and take something away from.
Plus, seeing Albany in a movie is pretty cool.