Happy Valley


Happy Valley

Critics Consensus

Sober, even-handed, and quietly devastating, Happy Valley illuminates the wreckage of a tragedy while leaving viewers room to draw their own conclusions.



Reviews Counted: 35

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,896


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Movie Info

In his newest film, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story) takes audiences on a thought-provoking journey into the town of State College, the home of Penn State University, an area long known as "Happy Valley." The film delves into the culture of a school, town and country where football is religion; into the world of Joe Paterno, Penn State's iconic head football coach for over four decades; and into the days, months and years leading up to November 2011, when everything came crashing down. HAPPY VALLEY chronicles the ensuing firestorm of accusations of this complicated and tragic tale, and creates a parable of guilt, responsibility, and identity for a small town caught in the glare of the national spotlight.(C) Music Box Films

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Critic Reviews for Happy Valley

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (15)

It's not a groundbreaking thesis, but we still get a fascinating tour of a town that may never be the same again.

Dec 4, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The film could've benefited from another 15 or 20 minutes of detail and nuance. What's there, though, is strong, thoughtful and disturbing.

Nov 27, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Here it is, folks, in your face. Will you look or return to your own private Happy Valley?

Nov 21, 2014 | Full Review…

[A] thorough, thoughtful and disturbing documentary ...

Nov 20, 2014 | Full Review…

The documentary offers a compelling overview of the case, but Bar-Lev spends too much time painting Paterno as a victim and scapegoat. That advocacy doesn't sit well.

Nov 20, 2014 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Less an investigation into or comprehensive summary of the Penn State sex-abuse scandal than a look at the feelings it elicited, Amir Bar-Lev's Happy Valley is more concerned with the phenomenon of team spirit than any single question of fact.

Nov 20, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Happy Valley

At first, the documentary doesn't seem to have any perspective until it gradually reveals a disturbing thesis . . . that people will generally disregard some of the worst things imaginable in favor of keeping their symbols and heroes intact. The fact that most of the people in this town and at this college seem to care more about Football stats than the rape of children is the perfect demonstration of humankind at it's most callous and psychotic.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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