Devin Scott, Jeanne Teveldahl Scott, Laura Bohlin
Even today, a trip to Disneyland is a big deal, but back in the sixties, it must have been simply dreamlike. For preteen Anna, however, the trip means so much more than simply a fantastical vacation with her father. For Anna, this is a coming-of-age adventure as she desperately tries to deal with the divorce of her parents. Anna dreams of driving her own car at the Disney attraction, Autopia. If she could only do this, she would understand what was happening in her crazy life - at least, that's what she thinks will happen. If only life could stay simple. If only...
"My Happy Place" is a collection of imagery placed beneath the musing narration of Anna herself as an adult looking back. She reflects on her perfect life before her parents' divorce and the hurtful semblance of life after. For Anna, her preacher father was to blame for the split because he was unfaithful to Anna's mother. As the film progresses, we realize that not everything is exactly as it at first appears. And that's true to life, isn't it? Things often seem one-sided, unfair, or simply evil to a child. A child doesn't quite comprehend the complexities of life, which is why Anna's obsession with driving her own car to obtain a moment of freedom and clarity makes perfect sense. As adults, we often overlook how simply a child can see the world, but because Anna is reciting a pivotal point in her childhood, through her childhood eyes, it all strangely makes sense. That's what this film essentially is, a look at life from a child's perspective, which is actually an adult recollection. I know, I know. It's confusing to read but makes perfect sense.
There's not a lot to write about the technical aspects of this film. The voice of adult Anna telling the story is loud, clear, and even moving at times. As a narration-driven short film, it was important to get the voice and the words just right. "My Happy Place" had no issues, and when backed by the score, this film quickly became dream-like but intensely interesting. The collection of images all worked well, and although "My Happy Place" is definitely a montage, nostalgia piece of filmmaking, it's one that works. Is the story of Anna a true one? I don't think that matters at all because, in one form or another, "My Happy Place" is nothing but the truth. Maybe some of the details were changed, perhaps the exact situations, names, or places were altered but somehow - most of us can relate.
Devin Scott's short film may or may not be true, but either way, it's a story many will relate to. In under twenty minutes, this charming movie holds the weight of a full-length feature. Easily, "My Happy Place" earns its stars, and I'm thankful I had the opportunity to watch along as Anna told her story. Four out of five stars.