Spoiler Alert: Dutch Threesome Film “Happy Ending” Ended Badly

In the new Dutch romantic comedy streaming on Netflix, Happy Ending, Luna (Gaite Jansen) reveals in voiceover early in the film that she has never experienced an orgasm while having sex with her boyfriend of a full calendar year. Her boyfriend Mink (Martijn Lakemeier) doesn’t know this, because Luna has been faking her orgasms ever since their first time together after meeting at the beachside pizza bar where they work. On their one-year anniversary, Luna suggests a miracle solution (for, again, a problem Mink doesn’t even know exists): a threesome!

Mink is hesitant at first but then is all in on the threesome plan when he realizes it matters to Luna. The two endeavor to flirt with randos in pursuit of a third for one magical night, eventually taking to the apps where such quests are prominent. They’re both open to any gender for the third, suggesting they both lean bisexual. Mink’s sexuality seems more ambiguous than Luna’s throughout the movie, but the fact that he doesn’t bat an eye at the idea of a threesome with another guy makes me think he isn’t totally straight. But this is a movie largely concerned with the desires of one character and one character only: Luna. The rest of the people around her don’t get as fully fleshed out sexual lives and interiorities.

This is especially glaring in the instance of the third they eventually do find: Eve (Joy Delima), a bisexual woman who is pretty much instantly on board for the idea of a threesome with this couple and in fact seems blanketly down for anything. To say she merely exists as a device in this movie would be an understatement. She’s an exact filmic representation of the “bisexual unicorn” and little more. When she gives Luna an explosive orgasm after Mink falls asleep after the initial threesome, the two embark on a brief affair without Mink’s knowledge, Luna thrilled by her newfound ability to ask for what she wants when it comes to sex. Mink then becomes flattened into the stocktype of the clueless boyfriend, completely unaware anything is happening between Eve and Luna, even when it’s happening right in front of him.

Now, it’s absolutely familiar fodder for romantic comedies to center characters who simply do not ask for what they really want or need. Most rom-coms could be resolved in the first act if characters were just more honest about their desires. But in Happy Ending, Luna’s refusal to just be honest with Mink is more frustrating than the usual romantic comedy premise, especially because Luna never takes genuine ownership for her part in the conflict in their relationship. She eventually tells Mink the truth about their sex together, and she says he should have asked her more about what she wanted. Mink fires back, fairly, that because she had been faking great orgasms the whole time, he had no reason to believe anything was off. Sure, it stands that he could have still asked her more about her desires, but Luna’s fury at him doesn’t feel fair, at best, and at worst could be seen as manipulative.

I do find Luna’s selfishness and tendency to make her own communication problems everyone else’s problem to be one of the more interesting aspects of the movie. I love when romantic comedies veer into unlikeable character territory (hello, When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favs, and they’re BOTH unlikeable people!), but it doesn’t work as well when the script overall doesn’t seem aware of that unlikeability. If the movie were more aware of Luna’s selfishness, I don’t think we’d be so fixated on her unraveling in the wake of Mink breaking up with her. And even though it’s true to the genre’s formula, Luna and Mink likely getting back together at movie’s end doesn’t feel earned at all. Meanwhile, there’s no closure for Eve at all, but of course there isn’t. She is, again, pure device. And the fact that she’s the only Black character in the movie makes that even more frustrating.

It can, of course, feel difficult or awkward to ask for exactly what you want during sex, especially with a long term partner who you’ve established certain patterns with. Many of the themes Happy Ending contends with feel like real and compelling questions about sex, sexuality, and healthy communication. It just plays these things for surface level conflict and comedy rather than actually engaging with them deeply or complicating them. A lot of this comes down to an issue of character and perspective. We’re so in Luna’s perspective that it’s actually stifling and didactic. If Eve and Mink were more present as fully fleshed out people, the film might arrive at a level of depth and poignancy it lacks. Instead, it’s quite forgettable.

That’s especially a shame because the queer sex scenes are so good. They’re easily the best parts of the movie, and watching both Eve and Luna ask for what they want and then get it is so hot. There are brief bursts of pleasure to the film. It certainly made me want to spend my days at a pizza bar on the beach. And Luna and Mink’s costume party-loving friend group feels detailed and fleshed out in a way I wish other aspects (read: Eve) of the film were. But given the failures of character development, in the end, the threesome premise feels just like a cheap gimmick rather than a meaningful exploration of sex, boundaries, communication, and pleasure.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 846 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. yes i was mildly into this movie (and the sex scenes) for most of it and was like, wow these are incredible costume parties (it was the most interesting thing about them!), but my lord it felt like Eve was treated as a device by the film and the characters and therefore at the film’s end i was like “wow, that sucked!”

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