HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS
A dissatisfied London psychiatrist (Simon Pegg) embarks on a continent-crossing trip to discover the secret of happiness. Lacking in life experience, he sets out on an epic quest to discover what makes people happy. Whether it's living the high life in Shanghai, seeking out the best African recipes, defying local authorities or searching for closure on past heartbreaks, Hector encounters people, places and perspectives that will stay with him forever. In asking others what makes them happy, Hector eventually realises he needs to turn the question on himself.
Review by Louise Keller:
Quirky, engaging and unexpected, this charming exploration of the road to happiness is elevated by the appealing presence of Simon Pegg, whose dissatisfied psychiatrist delves into the conundrum with na•ve enthusiasm. His enthusiasm is addictive and director Peter Chelsom (Serendipity) has adapted Francois Lelord's novel with a light touch, using simple line drawings and typed letters to help create a slightly ethereal reality. As to the conclusions to which Pegg's Hector draws on this, life's greatest puzzle; you will need to see the film. Although I will say, that through the improbabilities of Hector's road trip, there are chuckles to savour and simple truths to which we can relate.
The film begins by a 'once upon a time' introduction to Hector's tidy, uncomplicated world, with its comfortable, predictable patterns, including his life with lovely girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). He is almost in another zone as he treats his many patients; questions are always answered by a question. It is impossible not to smile, when a woman with a pronounced French accent at a work function for Clara declares: 'I want a penis'. Of course, what she is trying to say, is that she wants what everyone wants - happiness. The final push to action comes when his clairvoyant patient puts forward some suggestions which prompts Hector to doing some research on happiness, making him admit to feeling like a fraud and 'an armchair traveller dishing out worldly advice'.
Making comparisons can spoil your happiness he thinks when he meets Stellan Skarsgard's high-flying businessman on his way to China, before getting a taste of the high life. ('It's not who you know but how much you pay to who you know'.) Freedom to love more than one woman at once flits through his mind when he becomes involved with a sympathetic prostitute. There's an encounter with a monk high in the mountains, a rough flight to Africa and he learns that fear is an impediment to happiness after meeting Jean Reno's drug dealer. There are more gems of wisdom from a terminally ill woman who says 'People who are afraid of death are afraid of life' and 'listening is loving', before meeting up with his former girlfriend (Toni Collette) in LA.
The film's emotional heart comes during his session with Christopher Plummer's scientific happiness researcher, when being sad, scared and happy all come together in one heart rending sequence, when the past, the present and future all converge in a harmonious blend. The 'once upon a time' beginning gives us a clue that this will be a 'happily ever after' kinda of film - and happily, it is.
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HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (M)
CAST: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Tracy Ann Oberman, Jean Reno, Veronica Ferres, Christopher Plummer
PRODUCER: Klaus Dohle, Trish Dolman. Christine Haebler, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross Judy Tossell
DIRECTOR: Peter Chelsom
SCRIPT: Maria von Heland, peter Chelsom, Tinker Lindsay (novel Le voyage d'Hector ou la recherchˇ de Bonheur)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kolja Brandyt
EDITOR: Claus Wehlisch
MUSIC: Dan Mangan, Jesse Zubot
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Diner
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Becker
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 23, 2014