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Film / Hector and the Search for Happiness

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"We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit."
Professor Coreman

Hector and the Search for Happiness is a 2014 British-German-Canadian comedy-drama film starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Jean Reno, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Stellan Skarsgård. It was based on a 2002 novel by Francois Lalord.

Hector is a London-based frustrated psychiatrist that is unable to take pleasure in his "satisfactory" life and disillusioned with the tedium of his existence. He confesses to his girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) that he feels he is a fraud for dispensing recommendations to patients who never seem to improve or get any happier.

Wanting to break out of his lackluster routine, Hector gives his starved curiosity free rein and embarks on an international quest to find the right formula to bring him joy and vitality.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Diego Baresco. He may be the local drug kingpin, but his friendship with Hector is genuine, and they end up helping each other.
  • Betty and Veronica: Hector becomes torn between his long-standing stable girlfriend Clara, or the beautiful and exotic Ying Li he met in China.
  • Exotic Backdrop Setting. Lampshaded at one point in the book. "You might be thinking that not enough has been said about African people in a country where everybody is African..."
  • Faux Affably Evil: The African warlord who kidnaps and nearly murders Hector. He condescendingly humors Hector by talking about his book and allowing him to write what would be his final journal entry, as though to say that killing him is nothing personal.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Edward is a cynical, cold, jaded, and fabulously wealthy banker living the jet set life. While he seems to ooze contempt for everyone around him, he decides to take Hector under his wing and show him a good time in Shanghai, and says that he's happy that he made the effort to get to know somebody outside of his normal social circle and comfort zone afterwards (though he's visibly repulsed when Hector gets all emotional and touchy-feely when they say goodbye).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ying Li is an attractive woman whom Hector meets in China and is immediately smitten with. She has a Lingerie Scene when she and Hector attempt to sleep together and when that fails she still Sleeps in the Nude beside him. She also has a brief Shower Scene. Clara also qualified.
  • Running Gag: Hector keeps on losing pens and having to borrow them from other people. It ends up saving his life.
  • Post-Coital Collapse: We get this shot after Hector and Clara sleep together, with her being the one to drop on top of him, in a brief Toplessness from the Back shot before rolling off and wrapping herself up in a Modesty Bedsheet.
  • The Shrink: Hector's is a psychiatrist and considers himself a fraud since he hasn't really tasted life, and yet he's offering advice to patients who are just not getting any happier.
  • Straight Gay: Michael (Hector had no idea that Michael, who has none of the stereotypical mannerisms, was gay until he finds out that Marcel is his lover, even though Michael was his best friend in college).
  • Unusual Euphemism: Diego Baresco calls himself a "farmer". You... might not want to enquire too closely about his crops.
  • World Tour: Hector goes on an international quest in order to find out "what makes people happy".