Renting this movie won’t increase your baseline level of happiness, but it’s a solid rental. It doesn’t offer any new insights concerning whether happiness is a goal that one can pursue or whether it is a state that happens as a by-product of living an authentic life (primarily involving meaningful attachment to others).
Hector is a well-off London psychiatrist. Unfortunately, he is burnt out. He is bored listening to his patients’ neurotic complaints and not even helping them much with their mundane lives. He lives with his girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) who is pretty, smart, and giving, but something seems to be missing from their relationship. He isn’t happy, so he decides to go on an odyssey to discover the secret to happiness.
His journey takes him to exotic places, such as China, Tibet, and Africa. Is happiness related to money and all the things it can buy (including first class travel and a night with a beautiful escort), feeling connected to God, helping others, a close encounter with death and unexpectedly getting a reprieve, re-connecting with your college sweet-heart, or does it somehow transcend experience?
Hector gets some insights along the way and jots them down in a notebook. His insights weren’t profound, but, much like a fortune cookie, they were fun to read. (See the above picture.)
This film, however, is often funny. It occasionally has some depth, prompting one to reflect on his/her life, one’s baseline level of happiness, and what life changes one might make to perhaps feel consistently happier, or at least more frequently happy.
I was also very impressed with Pike’s performance. Clara was a universe away from the character she played in “Gone Girl.”
Whether you find the secret to happiness or not, I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah! (By the way, my secret to happiness is eating Robin’s homemade latkes!)