21 October 2013 | AgentDice
You got a dream... You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it.
No one would make a movie about a guy struggling to succeed who doesn't ultimately succeed. Certainly, no one would make a Will Smith movie about a guy who breaks under the strain of his difficult life, abandons his child and dies. That's just not going to happen. And because we know that -- because we've seen more than one movie in our lives -- "The Pursuit of Happiness" has a particular challenge: To take the real-life rags-to-riches story of stockbroker Chris Gardner, a story with a preordained happy ending, and imbue it with tension and suspense.
The great surprise of the picture is that it's not corny. It may have seemed that way from the trailer: Will Smith tells his son, "Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something -- even me." But in context, even that moment isn't cloying. The beauty of the film is its honesty. In its outlines, it's nothing like the usual success story depicted on screen, in which, after a reasonable interval of disappointment, success arrives wrapped in a ribbon and a bow. Instead, this success story follows the pattern most common in life -- it chronicles a series of soul-sickening failures and defeats, missed opportunities, sure things that didn't quite happen, all of which are accompanied by a concomitant accretion of barely perceptible victories that gradually amount to something. In other words, it all feels real.
Gabriele Muccino ("L'Ultimo Bacio") directed it, and his fine Italian hand can be detected in Andrea Guerra's score, with its Italianate wistfulness and whimsicality, and in Muccino's very European enjoyment of American poverty and desperation. He finds both on the streets of San Francisco -- circa 1981, in this case, but some things don't change -- and he films them in a way that we're always aware: Our hero works hard. He's doing everything he can, and he has a son he is raising on his own. Yet even without a false move on his part, just an extra push of bad luck, he might land on those streets, and with such a thud he might never rise.
As in all rags-to-riches tales, we find the protagonist, Chris, unappreciated and looked down upon at the start. He is struggling to make a go of it by selling bone-density scanners and spends his days lugging around a thing that looks like a movie projector case and hearing doctors tell him they're not interested. His wife disdains him. Actually, the treatment of the wife is the first hint that "The Pursuit of Happiness" is going to be an usually uncompromising movie. The wife (Thandie Newton) is a poisonous harpie, with no redeeming traits. The filmmakers are not messing around: Chris has it bad.
In fact, he is an extraordinary man, but no one is paying attention to him long enough to notice. He decides he wants to get an internship as a stockbroker for Dean Witter and, realizing that his resume looks weak, he sets out to meet the man in charge and say a few words on his own behalf. Throughout the film, had Chris had just a little more pride and a little less intelligence, he would blow it. But he remains friendly and resilient, never indulging in anger, never letting anyone else's mistaken perception of him wound him at his core. He stays fixed on his objective and warm in his response to the world -- and even then, things don't improve right away.
Having proceeded to establish Chris as a great guy, "The Pursuit of Happiness" puts him through hell. The wife leaving is just the beginning (actually that seems a little like good luck). Chris has to raise a son (played by Will Smith's own real-life son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith) and do an unpaid internship, while selling those bone-density scanners on the side. If it weren't for the soup kitchens at Glide Memorial, he and his son often wouldn't eat.
Will Smith has the right quality for the role -- he's an easy man to root for -- but he augments this by channeling some inner quality of desperation and need. Frankly, I don't know where he found it; Smith was touched by luck at a very young age. Yet he does find it. In the taxicab scene, in which he tries to impress a prospective employer by solving the Rubik's Cube, and in every other scene in which Chris has to sit or stand there smiling while another man pronounces on his fate, Smith is right there with the right emotions: absolute hope and total terror.
This film is an amazing heartfelt performance certain to influence and motivate its audience to reach new heights. This film is based on a true gripping and dramatic story about a man who has nothing and his struggle toward success. The plot development can be slow but offers a lot of insight towards character development and explore these themes about patience and success and especially what motivates us and keeps us going. I recommend for everyone to watch this, whether rich businessman, student, or teacher for this will change everyone's perspective on life.
In short - Amazing movie. Very poignant, relevant and uplifting. Leaves you thinking about it for days!!