Film Review: ‘Hector and the Search For Happiness’ [City Screen, York]

Let’s get straight to it. ‘Hector and the Search For Happiness’ is rubbish. If that’s all you wanted to know, I suppose you can stop reading now but in order […]

Let’s get straight to it. ‘Hector and the Search For Happiness’ is rubbish. If that’s all you wanted to know, I suppose you can stop reading now but in order to go in to how rubbish it is, it’s imperative to state it at the start. It’s a film that looks unassuming, sporting the likeable Simon Pegg and a strong support cast featuring the likes of Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgård and Christopher Plummer that pitches itself as a self-discovery film in the style of ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, which Ben Stiller remade with aplomb last year. Surely it would be harmless, right?

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Wrong. ‘Hector’ is so unbelievably flaccid and uninteresting it stops being harmless and comes out the other side, actively harming your brain cells as they’re assaulted by the constant stream of awful that is hitting your eyeballs. It’s attempts to be smart are the worst parts of it, with a faux-philosophical sensibility that smacks of someone who has bought a very cheap self-help book and has decided that they know the answer to everything, spouting inane drivel like it’s the word of Zeus. By the end, you’ve been hit with so many sickly sweet definitions of what happiness is you’re splayed out, begging for it to stop in a pool of what you had for breakfast earlier that day. Well, not quite, but the image was definitely going through my head as we were forced to listen to yet more stock phrases suddenly thought up like they were genuine revelations without charging down the steps in the cinema and trying to haul the screen down so no one would have to go through the misery of it ever again.

The most baffling part of ‘Hector’ is its inexplicably dark turn about half way through, where for fifteen minutes it becomes a completely different film entirely. Having had to endure head bangingly annoying moments of slapstick just before  everything takes its sinister turn, there is no way at all in which you’re prepared for it so when it comes it feels like you’re expecting Hector to make a ‘witty’ remark and everyone to suddenly get along, but the complete opposite happens. Then that section of the film just stops. A couple of minutes later, everyone is over the situation and we’re treated to yet more horrible life advice and back in to the same routine. It was so baffling that it was actually quite hard to concentrate on the rest of the film without wondering what purpose the momentary wild shift in tone even served, before I realised this film’s master plan. It creates scenarios around its horrible phrases to enable itself to come out at the end of every section with its puerile rubbish. It’s like a self-help book keen to squeeze every last dollar out of its weak premise, with lots of useless pages leading up to a payout so disappointing it’s like wishing you could fly only to be given a mild case of flatulence by a genie that is almost as utterly useless as this film. Director Peter Chelsom gets an honourable mention for doing a horrible job of putting the film together and ensuring he wastes the talent of his strong cast entirely on a script so drab a blank sheet of orange A4 paper would be more interesting to look at for two hours. If you were thinking of seeing this, I would heartily recommend doing basically anything else with your time, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it more than this limp, ineffectual disaster of a film.

rating-1

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Sep Gohardani

About Sep Gohardani

Sep is an avid film and music enthusiast who takes any opportunity to verbalise his often snobbish opinions to any unlucky soul who is near him. He was editor-in-chief of independent student newspaper The Student Review from 2013-14 and is an ardent writer of reviews and feature pieces.