Pursuit Of Happ-‘i’-ness
by Sourav Nath
TLR Rating: 9 Reels.
Gabriele Muccino, a name not so much heard before the year 2006, attached a gem in the crown of Hollywood with the movie “The Pursuit Of Happyness“. One of the best dramatic movies of the 21st century, it is exceptionally inspirational. And yes, there’s no ‘i‘ in the word “happyness” in the title. The protagonist Christopher Gardner was shown to be protesting against this issue in the movie a few times. Ironically there’s a huge possibility that it can mean that there is an ‘I‘, who is or will be in the state of happiness.
It has one of the most perfect “suitable for all” awe inspiring story. This movie is grand proof that even when everything goes horribly wrong, if you can still manage to cling to your hopes, you can still make it to the finish line.
Set in 1980’s San Francisco, this story is about the traumatic yet remarkable journey of a homeless, caring father, who loses everything at one point of his life but his hopes. At one point, the audience is forced to believe that his days are numbered. He loses his life’s earnings, investing in and selling a product called a bone density scanner (which the physicians considered to be “unnecessary luxuries“). His wife leaves him abruptly. And to top it all, he is left with the custody of his son. Gardner is shown to be a fighting machine. The relationship between father and son, through all the ups and downs of family strife and economic instability became the cynosure of the viewer’s eyes.
Gabriele Muccino is a “Dark Horse” in the world of big shots. The direction is definitely worthy of praise. Sad thing, it never received any accolades.
Hollywood has always surprised us with genres like action-adventures and animated movies with rich CGI and multiple viewing angles. However this story never required such a thing. Thus the cinematography is fluid and simple. Though the timing had to be perfect because there’s a child actor involved in this one (and not every time we get the exact reaction required, from a kid). And as a matter of fact it was.
Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album with the score composed by Andrea Guerra on January 9, 2007. The music for this movie was a pure one; very soothing to the ears. And it actually goes with the flow with the direction and the story.
The Moments of Emotion
There are some moments (apparently many) where we actually felt as if we are actually sinking deep into an ocean full of emotions for this underachiever. His own wife was always shown to be complaining about their poor economic condition and poked him for his failure to provide for the family. Then came a time which was both positive and negative for him, thus creating an “oxymoron” type of situation. He was able to get a green signal call from the company for an interview but simultaneously his wife separated from him. Along with that, too many instances were shown where he failed to pay fees, taxes and rents. Because of his failure to pay for parking tickets, he had to stay one whole night behind the bars (even though the very next day was the “Big Interview”; which he succeeded because of his intensely honest replies and behavior).
The final blow to his already sinking boat came when the government cut a huge amount from his bank account for tax evasion. With only 21$ and 33 cents he was broke (n). The intensity of sadness was increasing with the passing of every second in this film. Dense dark clouds seemed to be looming over him when he failed to sell his scanners. Kicked out from his rented apartment; at one point he was forced to spend the night at the toilet of a subway station by forging an imaginary illusion in his son’s head that they would be safe there because there were dinosaurs everywhere. That scene was intolerably painful. I can go on and on with this but these scenes have to be seen to feel your wet eyes.
The Moments of Inspiration
‘The Pursuit of Happyness‘ revolves around Gardner’s fight against his fate, his economy and himself! He knew that he was capable of accomplishing more things than the others ever expected from him. On one occasion, while Chris was on his way to sell a scanner; he luckily met Mr. Twistle. And inside the cab, he impressed the latter by solving a Rubik’s Cube when he was guaranteed that he won’t be able to do that just because Jay couldn’t.
Quite often he had to stay in charity hotels because of lack of resources. One night he managed to repair one of his damaged scanners. Now I found that scene to be extremely significant especially when the LED of his scanner lighted up in the dark hall where he was mending it, which can be dramatically considered to be the turning point of his life. “For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness“- Psalm 18:28, The Bible. By that moment I could feel the silhouette of his future fate.
At the conclusion of his internship, Gardner was called into a meeting with his managers where he was sure to get rejected. But there he received the “divine gift”. He was offered a full time paid job in that firm. The climax of this movie is epic and extraordinary, not only because of the success, but also because of the tears of joy which gradually oozed out of the corners of those succumbed eyes, as he shook his hands with them. The viewers, wiping their moist eyes, would empathize.
The Final Take
Hope is the best medicine. Even at bad times, when everything goes south in your life and you can feel that life is gradually sucking every drop of the cheerful juices present inside you, the only force to be reckoned with is the little bit amount of hope hidden in your mind.
Young Jaden Smith delivered a lively and adorable performance. It’s unimaginably hard for a kid to act with all the cast, crew and cameramen running around you.
The actor of the protagonist was nominated for an Academy Award. And it’s hard to digest why he lost it. With his mind blowing body language and acting performance, Will Smith got into the skin of his character. His facial expressions are bound to touch the inner most core of the audiences’ heart. He proved that he is the very definition of class. If I exclaim that he “nailed it” with his full fledged efforts even then that would be undermining his quality.
I don’t think that there can be any better example of how, a depressed and frustrated individual can live his dream and change his destiny by forcefully making it a U-turn, than this movie.
The writer is a budding electrical engineer, a movie enthusiast and a PC game fanatic.