Film Review: H is for Happiness

STUDIO: Samuel Goldwyn Films | DIRECTOR: John Sheedy | CAST: Daisy Axon, Richard Roxburgh, Emma Booth, Joel Jackson, Wesley Patten, Miriam Margolyes
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 18, 2020
SPECS: R | 96 min. | Family

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2

In the Australian family outing H is for Happiness, freckled faced newcomer Daisy Axon is Candice, a precocious twelve-year-old with red pigtailed hair whose favorite book is the dictionary and favorite possession is her set of colored gel pens. Her awkward personality and tendency of calling people by their full name and outstanding characteristic – such as “Douglas Benson from Another Dimension” and “Rich Uncle Brian” – leads some to think she’s on the spectrum. Following the death of her baby sister and a bad business deal which caused a rift between her father and uncle, Candice is determined to bring her family back together and spark happiness in their lives. This objective fits right in with her latest school assignment to recount her life according to the letters of the alphabet and present her assigned letter during a class A-Z presentation. You guessed it, Candice has the letter H.

Daisy Axon in H is for Happiness

Despite a somewhat dark premise, the film is anything but. Shot on location in A is for Albany, Australia, the film is full of lush color and light. Its production design and costumes seem to have been sourced straight from a Crayola Crayon box. Lisa Hoppe’s (Heck) charming and sly screenplay is skillfully adapted from the award-winning book My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg (released in the U.S. as The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee). The playfully wry tone stops the film from sliding into saccharine territory, which adults will certainly appreciate.

The film is peppered with subtle, quirky moments – at one point, Candice walks past a few classmates outside of school who are silently staring at a young boy stuffed in a large metal garbage can – all of which are deftly handled by John Sheedy, a theater director at the helm of  his first feature.

With just two acting credits to her name, Axon has such control over her performance you’d think she’s been acting since birth. She hits all the right notes with Candice, a character which could have easily become annoying and overbearing in less talented hands. Wesley Patton (Total Control), Emma Booth (Gods of Egypt), Richard Roxburgh (Hacksaw Ridge), Joel Jackson (Jungle) and the always wonderful Miriam Margoyles (The Guilt Trip) make up a fine supporting cast.

H is for Hurry up and see this delightfully whimsical film.

H is for Happiness premieres on Friday, Sept 18 on VOD and digital download.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at