Movie Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness

Movie Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness

Happiness is a state that human beings have been searching for since the day they exited the Garden of Eden. Next month Hector And The Search For Happiness will map out all of the most popular paths – but stop just short of its hoped for destination. British funny man Simon Pegg (The World’s End, Paul, […]

By Mark HadleyWednesday 24 Sep 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Happiness is a state that human beings have been searching for since the day they exited the Garden of Eden. Next month Hector And The Search For Happiness will map out all of the most popular paths – but stop just short of its hoped for destination.

Movie Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness 
British funny man Simon Pegg (The World’s End, Paul, Hot Fuzz) stars as Hector, a psychologist who is tired of trying to direct his patients to happiness, especially when he’s not sure he has arrived himself. Hector has a successful career, the beautiful Clara as his girlfriend (Rosamund Pike) and fine prospects for the future. But he is nagged by a troubled childhood and adult regrets. He determines to set off on a worldwide trip with a single question in mind: ‘What makes you happy?’ Pursuing the answer will take him to the fleshpots of Shanghai, the dark heart of Africa and the urban cool of California. But will any of these stops lead to true happiness?

To its credit, Hector And The Search For Happiness explores and explodes some of the more obvious fallacies about happiness. A parade of sage characters also teach him truths of varying value, from ‘Happiness is answering your calling’ to ‘Happiness is sometimes not knowing the whole story.’ But happiness continues to rest just outside of Hector’s reach, as the aptly named Professor Coreman (Christopher Plummer) warns him it will:

“Happiness, [is] a child like state that consumes us. [But] the more we focus on our own happiness the more it alludes us.”

That’s because happiness is a symptom of something much greater. Gurus like Mahatma Ghandi might have said that happiness was what happened when, “…what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony,” but the ability to achieve this alignment, let alone enjoy it remains far beyond the reach of us ordinary people. Happiness, I have found, is much more a gift than an achievement, a result of someone else’s efforts than our own.

I have been blessed with a job I enjoy. My day-to-day life intersects with good friends. I have received three wonderful children, and bask in the love of the most internally beautiful woman I know. You might be able to check the box on some or even all of those – you might have others you’d add. I would suggest, though, that the thing our sources of happiness have in common is that they do not have their origins with me. I could kid myself like Edward or Ghandi and believe I build my own happiness. But the truth is everything that makes me happy came to me. “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” the book of James reveals, “coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Recognising that is the step over the threshold into lasting happiness. That’s why Charles Spurgeon wrote,

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

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Hector gets almost all the way there by the end of the film, learning that the means to his happiness was always with him if he would but recognize it. There’s also a great deal of wisdom in the film’s call for contentment with what we have. As a monk continually assures our hero, “You hold all the cards.” The same holy man even points heavenward, leading Hector to the conclusion that, “We all have an obligation to be happy,” because we have been given much to be happy about. It’s just a pity that Hector And The Search For Happiness stops short of naming the Giver. 
 

Rating: M
Distributor: Becker Group
Release Date: October 23, 2014