Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hector and the Search for Happiness

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was one of my favourite movies this year so far, so here's another one, similar title, similar theme, similar story.

Hector has everything. He is a successful psychotherapist, who hasn't sold out, has a nice flat, no worries about money and a beautiful girlfriend. Still, something is missing and he goes to search for happiness. Literally... he even writes a diary about it. His travels lead him from China over Africa to the United States, and along the way he meets an ensemble of people that teach him all the little lessons he needs to learn about happiness.

There are a lot of genuine moments of humanity in this movie. A family gathering with sweet potato stew, a mountainside monastery and a warlords mansion. The ensemble is filled with some really great acting talent who all sell their roles and for the most part, the story works.

I say for the most part, because the final act, taking place in America feels like a step down and a regression from the journey our main character has made so far. It also features some weird science stuff that definitely had no place in this movie.

Finally, Hector himself poses a bit of a problem, because while his problems are arguably real and his pursuit of happiness is admirable, in the end, they are the definition of firsts world problems. Given, that is part of the realisations he makes over the course of this movie (and writes down in borderline campy one-liners in his diary), but it doesn't change the fact that his character is hard to relate to. Still, Simon Pegg gets some good scenes out of him, being the likeable guy he is. "Walter Mitty" had an actual reason for his quest, Hector not so much.

So after all, it's definitely enjoyable, but you might just as well go with a DVD of Ben Stillers take on a similar story.

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