Hector And The Search For Happiness – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review
I don’t remember when I saw the trailer for Hector and the Search For Happiness, but it immediately drew me in. Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike are two excellent actors (both having starred together in The World’s End), and more importantly, two actors I like. The trailer made the film look light and quirky – a nice journey of self-discovery. Just the thing to help clear away the winter blues.
Hector (Simon Pegg) is a successful London psychiatrist who lives a very routine life with his long-term girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). She makes him his breakfast everyday, and ties his necktie everyday. Hector goes to work at his own practice, where he is starting to realize his own apathy is not allowing him to help his clients. He listens, but he isn’t making their lives any better. He’s not happy, and he’s not making them happy. The same is true when he makes his rounds at the psychiatric hospital, and the same when he’s at home. Struggling with his predicament, he one day asks Clara, flat out, if she is happy. Unsure where their relationship stands, Clara gives her approval for Hector to go off and research “happiness”, hoping he will find it, and hoping it will bring him back to her. Why wouldn’t it? It’s not like she found a picture of an old girlfriend (Toni Collette) in the bottom of his sock drawer…
Hector travels the world, meeting people and recording what they think happiness is. In China, he meets a rich business man (Stellan Skarsgård) who shows him how money can buy happiness, and how work (or overwork) can be happiness too. He travels to Tibet and meets monks, he travels to Africa and volunteers at a clinic with an old friend. He aids a local warlord/drug lord (Jean Reno) and is eventually kidnapped by his enemies. During his incarceration he reflects on his life and his loves, his joys and his regrets. Thinking often of Clara, he finally, cleverly secures his release. Thankful to be alive, Hector flies from Africa to Agnes, his old girlfriend (Collette), now living in Los Angeles who is working with a professor (Christopher Plummer) who is also researching happiness, and the chemical and scientific mappings of the brain. Thinking again of Clara, Hector knows what will make him happy, but will she still have him?
An incredible cast of supporting stars and great light humour, this movie had me involved from the very beginning. Mainly because I was cheering for Hector to solve his dilemma. I really wanted him to stay with Clara and not to mess things up, and I was worried what would happen when he met back up with his old girlfriend. The film though is warm and inspiring, and generally was a treat to watch.
Bottom Line: A lot of people have compared Hector to the Secret Life of Walter Mitty; which I also really liked; but I think the only real similarities are that both Hector and Walter travel the world on their respective “quests”.