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HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (review)

hector_and_the_search_for_happiness_ver4HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS
Written by Maria von Heland, Peter Chelsom and Tinker Lindsay
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike and Toni Collette
 

Edward: Whoever said money can’t buy happiness, fuck you!

The problems with Peter Chelsom’s HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS are plentiful and inherent in the premise itself. From the very start, as Chelsom introduces us to Hector (Simon Pegg) as a tired therapist in midlife crisis mode, it is clear that Hector simply doesn’t know how good he has it in his life already. We are then subjected to watch him travel around the world in search of understanding what makes people happy, a concept any therapist with half a brain knows is a fleeting one anyway, until he realizes that there is no place like home. And Pegg is no Dorothy.

Hector’s journey is quite the fantastical one, not to mention an entirely selfish one. He leaves his perfectly lovely, which apparently means perfectly dull, girlfriend (Rosamund Pike) at home, quite suddenly and without very much explanation, in pursuit of happiness. She agrees to this adventure, reluctantly, and he is on his way. The way their relationship is portrayed, we are meant to see them as two people who have settled for what they found in life instead of constantly looking for something better. Positioning them this way instantly removed any faith I had in the director showing us anything other than cliched ideas of what makes people happy throughout Hector’s journey. Every person he meets along the way presents a new happiness trope that Hector probably could have figured out without ever leaving home, presenting each of them like a new revelation that should blow our minds. I assure you, my mind remains in tact despite having taken this trip with Hector.

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As unsure as the screenplay is, Chelsom’s direction is even more all over the map. Stylistically, there are inserts of animation and different camera techniques that are meant to make Hector’s globe trotting more dynamic, but really only exposes the director’s lack of focus and confidence. HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS is a misguided mess of a movie as a result, which led me to realize that if I were to look for happiness myself personally, I would most certainly not find it watching this film.

2 sheep

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