Title: Hector and the Search for Happiness Director: Peter Chelsom Year: 2014 Run time: 1hr 54m
“Hector is an eccentric yet irresistible London psychiatrist in crisis: his patients are just not getting any happier. He’s going nowhere. Then one day, armed with buckets of courage and an almost child-like curiosity, Hector breaks out of his sheltered vacuum of a life into a global quest to find out what makes people happy. Indeed, what might make Hector himself happy! Thus begins a colourful, exotic, and dangerous journey!”
0:59 - Two of these idents are for German companies. If they end up in Paris, I’ll be really miffed. 2:22 - Is there anything funnier than a dog with flying goggles on? 7:10 - Cheeky maternity leave reference. 11:03 - Something tells me I’m not supposed to covet the wardrobe with labelled areas. 13:32 - “You can’t just ask a question like that, you’ve got to have a preamble.” 20:48 - Inner Tintin. 22:42 - You know a passport photo is bad if you have to make a face to match it. 24:42 - Love the notebook gift. Brilliant. 30:27 - “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s how much you pay, you know.” 41:09 - It’s really upsetting me that he keeps leaving his notebook lying around. 43:06 - Gorillapod! 48:21 - “You’re the kind of person I would avoid… glad I didn’t.” 58:49 - He’s always stealing pens. 1:05:49 - What can be in this sweet potato stew? 1:14:41 - Even with a gun pointing at him, he’s still on the search. 1:23:32 - Can’t work out if being a doctor on a plane is a good feeling or not. Helping people when no one else can. 1:27:40 - Baywatch! 1:31:15 - Shouting ‘putting away your socks’ in the middle of the street is a bit crazy. 1:37:44 - “When everything in our world, inside and out, was alright.” 1:39:10 - He pronounced it my-newt-ee-eye. Weird. 1:50:08 - Love the trainee monk waving in the background.
This is a film that started out really well and gradually went downhill massively.
It sort of felt like Walter Mitty, with the main character going on a journey for one reason, but really finding out a lot about himself along the way. It even had some slightly odd dream sequences, but in Hector they didn’t quite work as well as they did in Mitty. Whilst all of it was great fun, bright and colourful, meaningful, with inspirational quotes, it didn’t quite hang together for me.
Why did he choose those particular places? What happened between the three friends and how did Hector end up how he was? Why does his imagination involve Tintin specifically? Etc, etc. Lots of questions that don’t particularly need answering but sort of niggled at me while I was watching.
And then we come to the main point of the piece. Happiness. Pegg did a great job appearing to be frustrated at the beginning and then going on his naive but necessary journey around the world. I really loved the notebook, the messages, the lessons. But then the bit at the end with the brain patterns thing - was that what we were building up to? Cos it wasn’t much more than an old Windows screensaver.
Also, Rosamund Pike’s character was so frustrating. She was brilliantly happy at the beginning of the piece, a great career, an orderly home, everything going well. Even after Hector leaves, she seems to be going out and having a good time and generally carrying on as best she can with beautiful independence.
Then in the space of one phone call, she wants children and can’t be happy without a) him and b) them. Really irritating to see such inconsistent characterisation, particularly when a great career role model is portrayed as boring and too focused on her job, and is instead reduced to crying down the phone about babies.