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Sober, even-handed, and quietly devastating, Happy Valley illuminates the wreckage of a tragedy while leaving viewers room to draw their own conclusions.
All Critics (35)
| Top Critics (15)
| Fresh (31)
| Rotten (4)
It's not a groundbreaking thesis, but we still get a fascinating tour of a town that may never be the same again.
The film could've benefited from another 15 or 20 minutes of detail and nuance. What's there, though, is strong, thoughtful and disturbing.
Here it is, folks, in your face. Will you look or return to your own private Happy Valley?
[A] thorough, thoughtful and disturbing documentary ...
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.
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.
Bar-Lev's cameras prowl the streets of State College, Penn. to not only expose the details of the crimes, but uncover a hero-worshiping, sometimes ferociously self-justifying, culture.
... manages to craft a mostly even-handed examination of hero worship, football fanaticism and the power of conviction in the court of public opinion.
Happy Valley ... is less interested in assigning blame than using the scandal as a template to explore mob mentality and the perils of idol worship.
It's an essential documenting of where we are, and it leaves you with a lot of necessary, troubling feelings.
Bar-Lev lets his subjects off easy, but that's partly because they do so much damage to themselves.
Though fascinating, the movie's more of a well-organized mess than a thorough examination.
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.
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