Happy Burnout
German Film Week 2017

Happy Burnout

„…lifestyle deseases and other gewgaws…“ epd film       

Old punk rocker Fussel has the world wrapped round his finger; women, life, the system – all handled with a quip and his ready charm. Work’s for others too. But then an internal audit at the unemployment office means his advisor is forced to act. A job’s out of the question, of course, but being declared unfit for work, that’s another thing. So Fussel is packed off to therapy, where he meets people genuinely burned out. He soon turns the place upside down, drives the therapist and nurse nuts, but he’s also a breath of fresh air for his fellow patients. The more Fussel gets to know them, the more he gets to know himself until it’s no longer clear who’s treating whom, who really needs help and what it’s really all about, in therapy and in real life.

Source: German Films Service & Marketing GmbH

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Philbert Dy

The main character of Happy Burnout is a huckster, living off welfare and his magnetic charm as a free-spirited stoner. In order to keep his benefits from being taken away after a departmental audit, he agrees to be checked into a psychiatric facility that treats burnout syndrome. He puts up a good act, but the medical staff don’t buy into what he’s selling. But they make a deal with him: they won’t expose him if he uses his ability to connect with people to try and help the other patients in the facility.
 
There aren’t very many surprises in this film, in spite of the fact that its characters are all supposed to be weird and unstable. The film keeps things pretty schematic, with each of the patients dealing with one very specific problem, and the main character having to use his charms to suss out the tragic backstories that led to their current condition. It ends up feeling pretty reductive, a film a little too cavalier in sketching out and resolving the issues of each of these characters. It all feels like manufactured quirk, with mental illness mainly being treated as a plot device.
 
The film’s merits lie in its breezy tone and distinctive soundtrack. The performances are pretty good, each of the actors able to command the screen in fairly memorable ways. But as a whole, Happy Burnout just feels a little facetious as it aimlessly barrels through formula towards an ending that you can probably already guess.