Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Jodie - Hector and the Search for Happiness

Dear Jodie:

The first part of Hector and the Search for Happiness dragged on a bit for me I have to say. Then, on the plane to Los Angeles, Hector the Psychiatrist encounters the woman with the brain tumor. There, in poker parlance, I went "all in."

What does Hector do when he encounters her and gives her his first class seat? He listens. That's all. But he listens unlike he had been listening to his clients, probably for a long time. He doesn't feel that he did a thing except tell her what she already suspected, that she was going to die. She tells him her dream of the carousel and her family, and then says, "This is my last ride, isn't it?"  Hector says simply and effectively, "yes." That is the point that I saw Hector (and Simon Pegg) open, though he couldn't see it and disclaimed any praise. But the woman saw more than that and tells him that "Listening is Loving," which I suspect he eventually wrote in his journal, but not until saying goodbye to the woman at LAX.

"Listening is Loving."

I went all in at that point, Jodie, and you know that it was rather late in the movie, but it was because Hector went all in.  And as charming as he was throughout the first part of the movie, I thought he really nailed it beginning on the plane.

The early parts of the movie didn't quite do it for me.  For example, when he was in the jail with the one ­— and only one — rat (and a friendly one it was, too) in Africa I just kept wondering whether he would get his journal, wallet, and passport back when they let him go.  And I think that was because these events just sort of came along with no rhyme or reason. They didn't come from any real place and became way too episodic.

That was the first part.

The rest of the movie played out marvelously well, though predictable as hell.  Toni Collette was excellent as Hector's old flame Agnes.  Christopher Plummer gave an always-solid performance as Professor Coreman, the guru of happiness.  I did love how the eventual colors of his brain scan reflected the different colors of the pennants at the monastery blowing in the breeze.

And I don't mind predictability as long as it's well done. The last part of this movie was well done.

Just looking back at the movie, it was a bit like The Wizard of Oz with Clara being both Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and the Wicked Witch of the West. And through it all, Hector always had the ability to click his heels together and proclaim, "There's no place like home."  But he had to discover that for himself, and, to my mind, he did … once they reached Los Angeles.

Had the movie concluded as it began, I would have given it 4 out of 10. The last twenty minutes or so bumped it up for me to a 7 out of 10.

Yep.  "Listening is Loving."

So 7 out of 10 it shall be!

What did you think, Jodie?