Tuesday, May 5, 2015

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Hector and the Search for Happiness

2014, Peter Chelsom (Serendipity) -- download

I always want to call this movie Hector and the Pursuit of Happiness but that might just be a documentary on a guy following the late-80s Canadian pop band. Or it might get mixed up with a misspelled Will Smith movie. Alas, this one is the adaptation of a French novel, starring Simon Pegg. If the title doesn't give it away, it is about a man looking for the meaning of happiness. Pegg is a psychiatrist who realizes he is not making his patients happy just dealing with their individual neuroses and issues, and not seeking for overall health. Its because he doesn't understand overall happiness. But he gets the hint he might just not be, even with the perfectly attentive girlfriend, a rather wealthy lifestyle and being respected in his field.

That's the thing about these 'I cannot be happy' stories that always gets my goat. These people who drop everything to pursue a true centre of life, a source of happiness, always have a golden parachute. I am sure they have savings, supportive friends and family and are settled enough in the career of their choice to pick up again. Pegg definitely does. All you have to see is his flat in London at the beginning of the movie, to understand him jaunting off to China and Africa and America is not really going to hurt his lifestyle. The movie reinforces the statement that only the wealthy have the chance to seek out happiness.

Despite not being able to read the platitudes, as they were written in German on my downloaded copy, it was clearly understood these were what Pegg was collecting from people he met -- not statements on how to be happy. He goes from place to place, situation to situation collecting other people's views on the subject. Stellan Skarsgård is extremely wealthy and believes work & money makes him happy. But he doesn't convince anyone. Sex with a lovely young woman may be the key, if it didn't come with so many strings. Tibetan monks find it internally. White Doctors Without Borders, in Africa, find it in helping the needy.  Pegg finds it, and gets it, but it doesn't answer his questions. These stories always end by saying it was in front of you all along.

I will watch Simon Pegg in almost anything. He's roughly my age and as big a man-child as I am. He carries an affable, vulnerable charm that appeals to me. That is his character in this movie, someone who has not allowed himself to mature, to understand you cannot just expect happiness to come to you. If the movie says anything of value, its that, that happiness MUST be sought out and hung onto with teeth and nail. But no, even understanding that doesn't mean I get it. Get happiness, that is.