There’s a reason that movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz, and A Christmas Carol resonate so thoroughly with moviegoers. It’s because they all ask the same basic question: What If? “What if I could start my life again?” “What if I could have a second chance to do things right, would I?” “What if I could go back and find that special first love I abandoned so many years ago, would I marry her?” “If given a second chance at life, could I be a better person?”
Don’t say you’ve never asked yourself at least one of those questions; we all have! Most of us leave them unanswered, preferring instead to let the permutations play out in our minds, rather than take a chance on pursuing an answer. And that’s probably as it should be. I’m a firm believer that life unfolds and happens as it does for a purpose. We’ll never know that reason in our lifetime, but we can hope that someday—in another life, perhaps—it will all be made clear to us. In the meantime, we need to be content with the hand that life has dealt us.
To the list of films named above, you can add another terrific film that deals with the question of “What if?” It’s Hector and the Search for Happiness. Why I never heard of this wonderful film is a mystery to me. However, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon it on the Netflix site recently, while looking for a movie that both my wife and I could enjoy—without fear of having it ruin the pastoral mood of the evening.
The film stars a British actor named Simon Pegg, who has appeared in such films as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; Star Trek into Darkness; and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Additionally, his voice has been heard on the soundtracks of many notable films like The Adventures of Tin Tin; The Chronicles of Narnia; and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Hector features cameo appearances by several other talented actors: Christopher Plumber (The Sound of Music, etc.), Toni Collette (About a Boy, The Sixth Sense), and Stellan Skarsgård (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
Hector is a psychiatrist, involved in a longtime involvement with Clara (Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl; Pride and Prejudice; and Jack Reacher). Hector’s practice is boring, and his relationship with Clara stale—mostly due to the fact that Simon wants marriage and children, and Clara seemingly desires neither. One day, Hector decides to put his life on hold, and takes off on a whirlwind trip around the world, ostensibly in search of the meaning of happiness—or, more accurately, its meaning for him. His quest is complicated, however, by the fact that he has never come to grips with an unfinished relationship between a former girlfriend, Agnes (Collette), and what might have been if . . . well, you get the picture. His travels take him to China and Africa, among many other locales. How it all unfolds is played out in delightful fashion, as Hector experiences more of the world than he bargained for.
Hector and the Search for Happiness is available streaming from Netflix, and is also available on DVD and Blu-Ray. I highly recommend it. Anytime you can find a movie that not only makes you laugh and cry, but which also asks the question, “What if?” . . . well . . . how bad can it be, right? Happy viewing! And make sure you’ve got plenty of tissues handy.
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