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Hector and the Search for Happiness

Angharad Welsh reviews the latest offering from British actor Simon Pegg

Critics were less than kind when this supposed philosophical comedy hit cinemas in August last year but I love a bit of Simon Pegg and the promise of feeling uplifted after almost two hours of sitting down.

The film centres on Hector (Pegg), a psychiatrist from London who lives with his successful girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) in an immaculate Thames-side apartment which he leaves everyday on time, with a packed lunch and a kiss, to listen to his patients harp on about the problem with their lives.

Cracks begin to show when Hector realises he’s not ‘happy’ and he snaps at patients who are struggling with things that would definitely fit under #FirstWorldProblems on Twitter.

With the permission of Clara, Hector sets off on a trip around the world to discover the true meaning of happiness.

In a vein similar to that of the Ben Stiller film ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ the film blurs real life action with daydreams, doodles and animation as Hector learns more about happiness and there’s a childlike, innocent quality to the early part of the film which I really liked.

But then things take a weird turn and you find yourself wondering why you would spend almost two hours of your life being preached to about what should make you happy and why on earth the director would try to make an African kidnapping comical when all it makes you feel is incredibly uncomfortable.

There are some moments which I personally really enjoyed – particularly when Hector’s university girlfriend reacts to his assumption that they are somehow still meant to be, despite her happy marriage, two children and a growing baby bump – but the ending felt unbelievable and Pegg failed to bring home the message of the film, despite keeping track of it in his notebook throughout his travels, without avoiding the sticky trap of sickly sweet rhetoric.

All in all a pleasant, if not very believable, 114 minutes that many will enjoy at face value – but it’s certainly not Pegg at his best.