Hector and the Search for Happiness – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

An emotionally stunted psychologist realizes one day that he is incapable of helping his patients, so he pursues what it means to be happy in order to be more than just someone listening to their problems.

Review (with Spoilers)

Between having probably one of the most interesting trailers I have seen in recent memory, and having Simon Pegg & Toni Collette in the film, I could not wait for this film to come to the US. So, with that said, let’s talk about the movie.

Characters & Story

After many years as a psychiatrist, Hector (Simon Pegg) has found himself just going through the motions. He sits in his chair, listens to people’s problems, while doodling, and answers all their questions with a question. Making it seem like his low rates and nice office may have been the only thing keeping him afloat. But it isn’t just his work life which is a bore and routine, so is his home life. His long-term girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) has been with him for who knows how long, and basically is all a person could ask for if they wanted a wife. She makes him breakfast, goes out with him on occasion, is good at sex, and genuinely enjoy his company. But with one of his patients, a new age medium named Anjali (Veronica Ferres), pushing the idea he needs to go on a journey, he at first disregards this. But with him snapping on one of his patients, he decides that if he is going to continue to practice psychiatry, he needs to learn what it is that makes people happy.

Praise

A gentlemen I saw this movie with likened Hector to Forest Gump. Which I agree about to a point. For while the cast of characters Hector meets are what really makes the film good, Hector isn’t as loveable of a character as Forest. He more so is a likable facilitator who introduces us to these varied interesting lives and cultures.

All of which, to me, present stories I’m sure you will wish got more explored than they did. Take Ying Li (Ming Zhao) for example. She is a country girl trying to survive in the big city and Hector meets her due to Edward (Stellan Skarsgard) hooking him up. Now, she is presented as such a sweet girl that honestly him cheating on Clara almost became an afterthought. However, as soon as you become invested in their possible story she is snatched from us. And pretty much this pattern repeats itself over and over again throughout the film. Leading to highly memorable characters like Ying Li, as well as one played near the end of the movie performed by Chantel Herman. who presents a character who made me cry [1].

Criticism

And with them being snatched far too soon, there lies your criticism for the film. For with Ying Li being some sort of club prostitute; the old Monk (Togo Igawa) being a former criminal it seems; Diego (Jean Reno) being a drug lord; Michael (Barry Atsma) being a doctor, as well as a man who fell in love with a native; and a slew of other stories, including one in which we meet Agnes (Toni Collette) who is looked at as the one who got away, honestly it became so frustrating to get attached to one of these characters and then they get ripped from you. And unlike in Forest Gump, in the end, we don’t see what happens to them or perhaps what is in the future for them. Their stories, mostly, are fathomed to serve the purpose of helping Hector understand what makes people happy. Hardly anything more, though certainly nothing less.

Overall: TV Viewing

Quite honestly, the only thing holding me back from saying this is “Worth Seeing” is that the characters we are introduced to during Hector’s journey pretty much are far more interesting than Hector and anything going on in his life. Which makes it where when they leave, he often feels like a consolation prize. Though what kept me going was the fact that every time he left a place someone new and interesting was at the next location. Also, with the underlying theme being that happiness is about finding love, validation, and purpose, while it wasn’t a mind opening type of film, through the stories, and even watching Hector and Clara come together, you are left with a smile on your face, and maybe a dried tear or two.

Collected Quote(s)

“More important than what we are searching for is what we are avoiding.”
—  Hector and the Search for Happiness


“Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.”
—  Hector and the Search for Happiness


“The only real shadow in my happiness is when I tell myself it is too good to last.”

—  Hector and the Search for Happiness


“It just suits you, doesn’t it, holding onto a fantasy? When you put someone on a pedestal, or on hold, or to the side, or whatever you wanna call it, do you think that’s a compliment? Because it’s not, it’s the opposite. And you know why? Because I am not that fantasy, I’m better than that fantasy, I’m real.”

—  Hector and the Search for Happiness


“How many of us, I wonder, can recall that childhood moment in which we experienced happiness as a state of being? That single moment of untarnished joy. That moment when everything, in our world, inside and out, was alright. […] But now we have become a colony of adults and everything is all wrong. All the time! It’s as if we were on a quest to get it back, and yet the more we focus on our own personal happiness, the more it alludes us. In fact, it is only while we are otherwise engaged, you know, focused, absorbed, inspired, communicating, discovering, learning, dancing for heaven sake, that we experience happiness as a by-product, a side-effect. […] We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit.”

—  Hector and the Search for Happiness


“Beware the ego’s need to shape hallucinations.”

—  Hector and the Search for Happiness

Things To Note

Hector’s Notes on How to find Happiness

Visit to China

  1. Making Comparisons Can Spoil Your Happiness
    2. A Lot Of People Think, Happiness Means Being Richer Or More Important
    3. Many People Only See Happiness In Their Future
    4. Happiness could be the freedom to love more than one woman at the same time
    5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story
    6. Avoiding Unhappiness Is Not The Road To HappinessVisit to Africa
  1. Does This Person Predominately Bring You A) Up or B) Down?
  2. Happiness Is Answering Your Calling
  3. Happiness Is Being Loved For Who You Are
  4. Sweet Potato Stew
    11. Fear Is An Impediment To Happiness
    12. If You Want It, Go Get It
  5. Happiness Is Knowing How To Celebrate

Visit to Los Angeles

  1. Listening is Loving [1]
  2. Nostalgia Is Not What It Used To Be

 

[1]: In the film, there is a truly beautiful story about this woman who has traveled to various countries, likely with her husband, but now has a brain tumor so she is trying to see her sister one last time. Unfortunately, IMDB doesn’t have a picture for me to be 100% sure who the actress is, but I think it is Chantel Herman. I could be wrong, though.

 

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