Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Running Time: 117 mins
The Pursuit Of Happyness is an American film about a man, struggling to make ends meet, who searches for happiness by applying for a high-paying job at a stockbroker’s. However, before he can be awarded the job, he must do everything to keep himself and his family afloat, as they teeter on the brink of ruin.
A powerfully moving film, The Pursuit Of Happyness has everything from soaring highs to devastating lows, brought to life by a mesmerising performance from Will Smith, and a screenplay that neither preaches about nor neglects the harsh realities of modern life.
However, what’s most striking about The Pursuit Of Happyness is the way in which it keeps you going, just like its main characters, through thick and thin. Based on the true story of Chris Gardner, every moment of this movie is underlined with a streak of determination and, ultimately, wistful optimism that makes it a relentlessly captivating watch.
The film evolves dramatically over the course of its two hours of runtime. Starting off as a touching, intimate tale of a family struggling to make ends meet, this movie never holds back as it depicts the true hardships that keeping oneself afloat involve, by the final act developing into a sobering, almost dystopian portrayal of modern life.
With that said, this isn’t a film that’s out to attack ‘the system’. It doesn’t ever feel preachy about its main themes, but rather portrays its truth in brutally realistic fashion, with an uncompromising perspective on how one’s life can swing so wildly from good to bad in the blink of an eye, and it can only be recovered through gruelling effort.
At the centre of the story, Will Smith gives a brilliant performance with all of those central themes in mind. Beyond his inevitable chemistry with real-life son Jaden Smith, Will Smith is at his charismatic best in this film, with his infectious determination making his character’s relentless drive a beacon of hope amidst a story that’s at times deeply devastating.
A lesser film would have taken this story and turned it into a purely sobering image of a broken society, but The Pursuit Of Happyness doesn’t do that. While recognising underlying issues that plague the modern world, this film has a beating heart of determination and positivity, which keeps the light at the end of the tunnel firmly in reach even at its lowest lows. It’s not always an easy watch, but it is a soaring story that will leave you with a smile on your face. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.9 overall.