Happy people like to look on the bright side of things. When this buoyant emotion overtakes us, our minds open and expand. Our bodies grow frisky, and our spirits pull us onward and upward to fresh adventures.
There are thousands of books out there that try to track down the bluebird of happiness. But it often is an elusive quality, hard to explain and even harder to consistently manifest. Perhaps that is why during these scary times, there are hardly any movies about happiness and hundreds of crime and horror flicks.
“The greatest power we have is to lift the spirits of other people through our choices and behavior — to enhance their lives and our own.”
— Stephanie Dowick in Everyday Kindness
H is for Happiness is one of our favorite movies of 2020. It is a coming-of-age comedy set in a colorful Australian coastal town. Candice (Daisy Axon) is a red-haired, spunky, and very smart teenager whose remarkable resilience has served her well following the crib death of her little sister. While she tries to excel in school, her mother (Emma Booth) stays in bed most days due to depression and her computer programmer father (Richard Roxburgh) is stuck in a feud with his brother, whom Candice calls Rich Uncle Brian (Joel Jackson), over an invention they worked on together.
“Spread love everywhere you go. . . . Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
— Mother Teresa
Candice is a kind, selfless, and empathetic girl so she decides to do everything she can to “save her family.” She derives large doses of energy from her surprising friendship with Douglas Benson from Another Dimension (Wesley Patten), a new student with a vivid imagination who is planning a way to get back to another level of reality he believes he came from.
There are others in the town who are the recipients of Candice’s happiness-infused nature: they include a school teacher (Miriam Margolyes) who is ridiculed for her wandering eye, a lonely florist who dresses up in costumes (Selva Kasilingam), and the school’s bully (Alessandra Tognini) who enjoys making fun of everyone.
“Finding true joy is the hardest of all spiritual tasks. If the only way to make yourself happy is by doing something silly, do it.”
— Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in The Empty Chair
H is for Happiness is directed by John Sheedy based on the book My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg. Daisy Axon puts in an astonishing performance as Candice as she models the extraordinary marvels that grow out of love, kindness, creativity, and empathy. She makes resilience contagious. And she even uses silliness to heal others in the film’s closing scenes.
Give yourself permission to have a really good time. See this movie!