Happy Face (2018)

Stan has a complex life. He’s dealing with a manipulative cancer-stricken mother and in order to find a place to fit in, he’s taped up his face to distort it, which allows him to join a therapy group for those with disfigured faces.

The other encounter group patients soon discover his trickery, but they allow him to stay in the hopes that he learns to cope with the death of his mother while he shows them how they can use their ugliness to feel better about themselves.

Director and co-writer Alexandre Franchi has hired first-time actors with real facial deformities to give this movie a dramatic edge that it may not have otherwise. It never feels like a sideshow. Instead, this feels real and lived in.

As someone that used role playing games to get through my high school years, the fact that the members of the group play also comes off as authentic. It allows them to become someone they aren’t. Someone different. And perhaps have power in a world where the ugly are often the strongest.

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