I have phases where I don’t watch any films in ages, mostly because I’m busy, and then I have phases where I watch loads in the space of a few days. After finally seeing ‘The Hangover’ a few days ago (I know, it really did take me this long), I watched ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ the night after and it’s honestly the saddest happiest film I’ve seen.
I didn’t know much about this movie before I saw it, but I’d heard the title thrown about and knew it was worth seeing. I instantly felt a connection with the characters and the struggles of Chris in trying to earn enough money to look after his son (who is such an adorable five year old by the way) and it made me think so much about the world and earning money and how it’s never easy. It was kind of depressing in this aspect, to think that anyone could end up in poverty.
However, I admired the character of Chris so much; he held up an unpaid internship, whilst trying to sell machines, whilst looking after his kid, whilst not having a home or enough money. I honestly can’t imagine doing something like that or how I would even have enough willpower to do it. But he did. And it’s so amazing that he did. Especially since it’s based on a true story.
There were a few quotes that particularly stood out to me that I wanted to talk about.
“It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?”
This got me thinking more about the title – something which we often overlook. And the quote is totally right; it isn’t just happiness but the pursuit of it. The plot of the film is Chris’ journey to happiness but the most important part is that he doesn’t know if it’s even achievable. A lot of the time we aim for things and we don’t get them – there’s no way of telling. This is what makes his determination that more admirable, because he has the end in sight despite knowing the chances of achieving it are slim.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something. Not even me.”
I love this quote because it reminds us that if we want to dream big, we should dream big. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says because they aren’t us. And I like how Chris tells this to his son, after saying he can’t become a basketball player. Just because a parent, someone who is supposedly more experienced than you, believes you can’t do it, doesn’t mean you can’t. There is no ‘more experienced’ in the possibilities of fate. Anything can happen.
There are also two particular scenes that stood out to me. The first being the one in the subway when they have nowhere to stay. This scene is honestly so heartbreaking because Chris pretends his machine is a time machine so that they’ll imagine dinosaurs which will chase them into a cave (which is really a toilet) so that he protects his son from understanding the truth – that they have nowhere to spend the night and so will have to lock themselves in the toilet to sleep. It reminds you of how young the boy is to have to deal with this and I just felt so much for them in this moment. It’s just beyond any sort of explanation.
The last scene of the movie, however, was just the most overwhelming scene I’ve probably ever watched. It’s like the moment when you open your exam results after spending all that energy and time studying them – you’re overwhelmingly happy but so much so that you suddenly feel extremely emotional about it. It was like that. I didn’t think I’d feel it so intensely until it happened and I think it was the way that Chris didn’t jump up and cheer but he just sat there, still, and tears welled up in his eyes and I felt it more that way. Because I can relate to how it feels to have worked so hard towards something and then to achieve it – it’s a feeling beyond words. And yes I haven’t achieved something as great as he has, but I can only imagine it must be the best feeling in the world. And so even though I ended the film crying my eyes out, it also gave me hope that even in the most awful circumstances, there is always a way out – he is definite proof of that.
‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ is definitely a film that everyone needs to see – to understand the harder parts of life and the lengths we go to get ourselves out of them. It will also make you feel waaay too much but that’s a good thing, right? That’s what films are all about.