If New Orleans is dead, then Almereyda’s unsatisfying Happy Here and Now captures the Big Easy in its laboring death throes. With a Lynchian B-movie quality, Happy tells the story of Amelia, a pixie-ish young woman who travels to New Orleans and, with the help of a retired private dick, searches for her vanished sister, Muriel, who left no clues to her whereabouts except a few minutes of webcam conversation with a mysterious exterminator named Eddie Mars. Almereyda has a gift for atmosphere — Happy feels at once toxic, foreboding, and decidedly uneasy — but he squanders it with mundane chatter and incessant references to Pascal and Blake. When Mars tapes a porno starring two Nikola Tesla impersonators (yes, really), Almereyda’s dead-serious bull-session shenanigans reach the point of retardation. New Orleans deserves better.
Opens December 14 at IFC Center