Hector And The Search For Happiness - Blu-ray Review

'Chelsom continuously smacks us in the face with empty platitudes about "happiness", clearly believing that these add depth and philosophical insight, but actually just highlighting how bland and vacuous his film is'.

From its opening moments, Hector And The Search For Happiness does nothing to hide the fact that its central premise and execution borrow heavily from Ben Stiller's The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, which in turn also makes it at several points strongly reminiscent of 2006's Stranger Than Fiction. The comparison to these films does director Peter Chelsom no favours, however, with his feature consistently proving itself to be woefully inferior to both of the aforementioned films.

The title character Hector (Simon Pegg) is a key source of the film's issues. A psychiatrist struggling to help his patients (cue a montage of tired clich├ęs sitting on his couch and either moaning or acting like nutters), Hector decides that he needs to research happiness in order to better fulfil their psychiatric needs. By "research happiness", what he actually means is drop everything to undertake what essentially feels like a cross between a belated gap year and a mid-life crisis, deserting his long-time girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) for an indefinite amount of time whether she likes it or not in the process.

Hector is quickly revealed as an incredibly irritating main character towards whom it is almost impossible to feel empathy. His life is clearly quite comfortable, living in a swish London apartment and earning enough to be able to travel around the world without planning ahead, and yet all he is able to do is focus on all the things he feels he doesn't have and continually live in the past. Hector also proves himself to be both unfaithful to Clara (almost immediately, in fact) and hypocritical, becoming jealous of her going out with workmates whilst he's off seeing the world. Our protagonist is the kind of man who recounts being kidnapped by African guerrillas in the same way you might describe going bungee jumping for the first time. In short, Hector is a self-obsessed, middle-class knobhead.

Elsewhere, Chelsom's film gets no better. The director's disconnected presentation of his lavish locations is delivered entirely in travel brochure style, at no point offering any real engagement with the culture or history of any of Hector's destinations. Everywhere is arrogantly oversimplified and painted with the broadest of strokes. China is exotic and mystical; Africa is corrupt and dangerous; and Los Angeles is a clean, shiny place of witty university lectures and technologically advanced brain research.

Alongside this, Chelsom continuously smacks us in the face with empty platitudes about "happiness", clearly believing that these add depth and philosophical insight but actually just highlighting how bland and vacuous his film is. Hector And The Search For Happiness is an ironically joyless cinematic experience, ultimately ending up as a tedious exercise in sending Simon Pegg around the world in a stupid hat.




Hector And The Search For Happiness is released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 9th February 2015.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment