CINEMA: by Michael Daniel (reviewer)News Weekly
Heart-warming rags-to-riches story - The Pursuit of Happyness
, March 3, 2007
Michael E. Daniel reviews The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith.
Based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness
tells the rags-to-riches story of Chris Gardner (Will Smith). The film opens with Chris struggling to make ends meet.
Deeply in debt, as he is unable to make an adequate living from selling bone-density scanning-machines, he falls behind in his rent and child-care fees, while his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) works double shifts at a laundry.
Eventually, the strain becomes too much for his wife, who leaves him reluctantly. Having been a fatherless child, Chris insists that he retain custody of their five-year-old son Christopher (Jaden Smith).
At the same time, a chance meeting sees Chris embark on a career as a stockbroker. The odds are tough. With little formal education, he competes against hundreds to secure one of only 20 internships.
Only one of these interns will be awarded a job at the end of six months. Furthermore, Chris has to support himself and his son during this time, as he receives no salary during the internship.
Chris proves his ability in securing clients thanks to his friendly and outgoing personality, but his financial situation deteriorates. Both he and his son find themselves homeless and end up sleeping in railway stations and a shelter for homeless men.
One of the most moving scenes in The Pursuit of Happyness
is where Chris and his son spend the night in a station rest-room, with Chris settling his son off to sleep in his lap.
The title of this film comes, of course, from the United States Declaration of Independence which states that "all men … are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness".
This summarises Chris's motivation, the misspelling of the word happiness reflecting the misspelling of the word on a mural outside Christopher's childcare centre.
Although Chris Gardner was later to go on to earn millions as a stockbroker, the film ends with him receiving, against all odds, the job. Happiness, for Chris, is not to be found in earning millions, but rather in achieving success against the odds and in parenting his son.Engaging
Although somewhat slow-moving at the start, this superbly acted film is extremely engaging. Humour relieves some of the sadder moments.
While the characters struggle against adversity, the movie is imbued with a sense of hope. Members of the audience themselves are challenged to examine what brings happiness to their lives.
This is definitely a film not to be missed.— film reviewed by Michael E. Daniel.