#SHORTVIEW: “Are You Happy” by Paolo Petrini

Synopsis:

Overprotected by his mother Caroline, Daniel is a young teenager living reclusively and isolated from the outside world. Since the death of his father, Daniel is forced to undergo the daily routine, boring and oppressive, set up by his mother.


SO HE WOULD HEAL


> Your story revolves around isolation and control. Did this come from any personal experience?

I’ve always thought that, to be able to treat a subject correctly, you have to have lived through similar experiences. All of my projects have stemmed from my own life and experiences, and in this film, I wanted to explore a situation where the love that you may have for someone, or someone may have for you, might end up suffocating each other. I had a similar relationship with my mother once, and while I must say that I, of course, exaggerated the dynamic for a greater dramatic effect, but it is indeed based on that relationship.

> Sound and silence are very intertwined in your film. Why did you decide for it to be so?

The relationship between sound and silence is what links all of the characters together: Daniel’s mother is a former violinist that decides not to play because her song can no longer hear it, Daniel himself is becoming deaf, the neighbor introduces music to his world, etc. I wanted to isolate the characters within themselves through silence, and make them interact with each other through music, especially in the case of the youngsters.

> Throughout the film, the child seems to have some kind of mental problem – is this a real disability, or a result of the reclusion caused by her mother?

Daniel has the same sickness who ended the life of his father, some years ago – but his mother is hiding this illness from him. She loves him so much that, in order to “protect” him, he keeps him as a prisoner inside of the house, as if in doing so he would heal, somehow. But this is in itself an unhealthy situation, for she’s also robbing Daniel of the life that he may have while he is indeed alive. That’s why, when the new girl arrives, and kickstarts this realization in Daniel, she becomes overtaken with hatred.

There’s also a point to relate his condition to his imprisonment, though: it’s important to have in mind that being isolated made it impossible for him to engage in physical activity, so there’s something to do with that, also.

> At the end, it’s not clear if Daniel survives or perishes – was this on purpose?

The sequence at the end is supposed to be ambiguous: did Daniel die, and thus it becomes a kind of out-of-body experience? Or is this really a breaking point for the characters, allowing them to resolve the conflict? With this, I wanted to give the viewer a chance to decide for the life of death of the protagonist. I myself, of course, have made my own choice, but I thought it interesting to leave it open to each viewer to decide.


At the point of this interview, Paolo was getting ready to release “L’Âge Dort”, his second short film, in which he had the pleasure to work with the famous french humorist Chantal Ladesou. Regarding the future, he was also in the process of developing several projects, including a humour feature film.