Considered to be Beckett’s most cheerful piece, Happy Days features a middle aged couple, with the woman increasingly buried in a mound of sand. The film opens with Winnie (Rosaleen Linehan), an incurable optimist of about 50, embedded up to her waist in the exact centre of a mound. Winnie’s husband, Willie (Richard Johnson), appears only occasionally from his tunnel behind the mound. This doesn’t stop Winnie talking to him while he reads his newspaper. Winnie’s opening words, Another heavenly day, set the tone for the entire monologue, which is full of verbal and visual running gags. Winnie is the opposite of all those chronic complainers on whom Beckett elsewhere lavishes so much sympathy. From the end of the play, it’s clear that the author finds Winnie and her denials quite insufferable. Oblivious to her encroaching end, she is willing to proclaim the vacuum that is her daily existence as another happy day.
Happy Days is directed by the distinguished Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema, whose earlier work includes I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, White Room and the radical Jane Austen adaptation Mansfield Park. (79 mins.)