Hector & The Search for Happiness : Once upon a time, there was a young psychiatrist who was curios about what makes people happy. He decided to travel the world, to prove to himself what is the capacity for Happiness?
Now I will admit that the long-winded title is a little off-putting, suggesting the children's story meets self-help book. But the font is like the Tintin books and, following a thrill-seeking intro that sees a Tintin-lookalike in peril in a small plane, the adventurer's curiosity is simply piqued.
The set-up is terrific in wit and pace. Simon Pegg plays a psychiatrist who spends his days being paid benevolently low fees to coax his clients to happiness. Simon Pegg himself has a lot to do in this film. He gets to be happy, joyful, angry, tired, sad, hopeful and many other emotions, he is amazing, and he was in every scene. So your concentration on his character never goes away, because it's always kept on track.
His life seems perfect - a beautiful girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) ensures everything is in order ("Time to rise, time to shine!" as he removes his anti-snore strips) and the bonny clarinet soundtrack shows us Hector is stable and loved. But you can't help but feel from the start, that there is something is inevitably missing - so Hector heads off on a distant voyage of Tintin-esque proportions. He travels around the world. He goes to China, Africa, LA and back to London again, he has an all rounder in the three countries he visits in the film.
Pegg has the perfect demeanour for a boy-explorer and had Peter Jackson's Tintin been live-action, he would have been an obvious casting choice. His naïve British charm is aptly suited to Hector's well-meaning, slightly bumbling exploits. Pegg skips from physical comedy to genuine warmth as Hector's connections with strangers play out a timely indictment on first-world problems and malaise.
Reminiscent of Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, we have a slightly daft man with good intentions having unexpected revelations so that we, sitting in a movie theatre, can open our own minds to the possibilities our world offers.
Take a look at the trailer.
None of us will encounter a drug cartel or Skype from a Tibetan monastery, but it's nice to live vicariously.
It's just a shame that, by treading so lightly when the underlying message is so potent, Hector will leave most of us largely unaffected as we trudge back into the real world.
Looking at it from an observational point of perspective, Hector's Happiness is a film which takes its time, is adventures and insightful in ways that we can only begin to understand. I think the more I look at this, the more I will get out of it and I will never stop learning.
It is a very clean cut, carefully directed and wonderfully performed film which has embraced my inner human spirit, and it's got lots of laughs and is a very funny film. 8/10
NEXT : The Duchess