Hector and the Search for Happiness

I’m not afraid, Hector. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life.

Year Released : 2014hector-and-the-search-for-happiness-new-smiley-poster
Director : Peter Chelsom
Cast : Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Ming Zhao.

I commented recently that one of my favourite actresses is Rosamund Pike, who also happens to be arguably one of the most underrated actresses in the world. So when I saw that she was in a film with Simon Pegg, himself a fairly underrated actor, I knew I had to watch it. I’ve been a fan of Pegg since his days of being in a BBC comedy called “Big Train” at the back end of the nineties.

Despite reading a few reviews here and there, I haven’t watched the trailer as I want to do into it with a pretty much blank canvas. I don’t want to go in knowing everything, which is probably a mistake that I have made far too often since starting this website some time ago. Having said that, if that was entirely true then I wouldn’t have read other reviews beforehand.

The one thing that I certainly get the vibe of though is that is a less likeable version of another film that I won’t mention unless it turns out that this film isn’t very good. I sincerely hope it is, but I get the feeling that it’s not going to be.

Plot

Hector (Pegg) is an exceptionally successful psychiatrist and is in a great relationship with Clara (Pike), but despite that he is unhappy with life and feels like he has no meaning. One day he gets a reading from a psychic about going on a journey, but he refuses to believe it. He soon loss his patience at a patient’s small problems being blown out of proportion and launches a scathing rant at him, and his anger and impatience runs into other aspects of his life. He decides to travel after all.

His first destination is China, and on board the flight he meets the very rich Edward (Skarsgard) who invites him to stay with him for a few days. Hector soon meets Ying Li (Zhao) and falls in love with her, all before discovering that she is a prostitute hired by Edward. Hector sets off for the Himalayan mountains to talk to monks in a monastery.

Soon afterwards he sets off for Africa and helps one of his old friends in a clinic, but as time goes on Hector continues to find out how other people become happy, he still struggles himself and feels somewhat lost as he can’t truly open up. How long can he keep on this journey, and more importantly, can his relationship with Clara survive on purely Skype conversations?

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A worthwhile venture?

Whilst “Hector and the Search for Happiness” is great in the aspect that you get to see a lot of places around the world that you don’t often see, such as the Himalayan mountains and the Buddhist monastery within, unfortunately there isn’t a lot more going on that’s worth while.

It is very similar in many ways to a film by the name of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” in that it sees a sheltered man that is comfortable in life going on an unexpected journey, but the difference is that that film felt more natural and less forced. The character of Walter Mitty is someone that is instantly likeable and you appreciate his journey more than you do with that of Hector. Hector’s journey feels more forced whilst the character is likeable, he never really seems to face the same struggles as the aforementioned Walter. This is due to virtually everyone that Hector meets is actually quite nice and goes along with everything, whereas Walter has to deal with people across a variety of different temperaments and languages.

Simon Pegg is decent as Hector and he continues his likeable nature in films, but ultimately he is working with a script that doesn’t really lend itself to his acting skills, and I would argue that it is one of the worst films of his that I have seen. Pegg does have to carry the film pretty much on his own as despite having a large and impressive cast, very few of the rest of the cast really feel like they’re in the film for very long, and other than a few scenes at the beginning and the odd Skype cameo here and there, Rosamund Pike’s contribution to the film is fairly minimal. I don’t think the lack of chemistry between Pegg and Pike makes them a believable couple either.

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I don’t really have that much to say on the film really because it really isn’t that interesting. It’s just two hours of my life that I have spent watching a film that will be totally forgotten within a few days, and the moment I realised just how irrelevant this movie is was when Hector has a gun in his face when imprisoned by a militia group in Africa, and I didn’t feel any emotion to the scene whatsoever. There was no desperation for the character to survive, and I really wouldn’t have been disappointed if he had been killed at that point.

The movie keeps on blasting music out at you that is supposed to make you feel more connected to the scene, but it often feels completely forced, with situations feeling completely far fetched and something that wouldn’t happen to ten people combined, let alone a single person. That’s the main problem with this film, it doesn’t have a natural flow to it at all. Nothing feels realistic and it is a blatant attempt to invoke wanderlust in those that watch it.

Before watching this film I saw that had a score of 7.0/10 on IMDB, but generally “mixed to negative” reviews everywhere else, and I unfortunately I have to agree with the latter of those.

What makes it even worse is that when it tries to do jokes, the jokes are unfunny and unoriginal.

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Summary

A supposedly life-affirming journey of self discovery that is lacking an real emotion, desire or even anything remotely interesting. “Hector and the Search for Happiness” just plods on for around two hours without really seemingly going anywhere, which is amazing given that the character travels all over the world.

If you’re going to watch a film like this then your best bet is to go to the far superior “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Whilst “Hector and the Search for Happiness” is a well meaning movie that ultimately won’t offend anyone, it is very far from being enjoyable and other than the odd minor thing here and there, it just isn’t that enjoyable.

Don’t watch this unless you are absolutely desperate.

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