Hector And The Search For Happiness review

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He might be Hollywood’s go-to guy, but Simon Pegg hasn’t quite made it yet as a mainstream British movie star. Beyond his cult fanbase, Pegg’s preference for under-achieving films with unwieldy titles has obscured his career. What is he searching for?

Definitive answers aren’t forthcoming in Hector And The Search For Happiness , but at least the quest is heading in the right direction. Pegg plays Hector, a psychiatrist whose perfect life is troubled by a niggling sense of ennui. Abandoning his girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike), he sets off on a globe-trotting voyage of self-discovery.

The omens aren’t good. This is an English-language adaptation of François Lelord’s self-help book. Cue a series of Esperanto life lessons (“many people only see happiness in their future”) during romanticised encounters with beatific Chinese monks and stew-cooking Africans.

Fortunately, director Peter Chelsom marries whimsy with wry wisdom. A flintier affair than the similar The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty , it sees Hector exposed to real peril during an kidnap subplot. There’s also a welcome vein of mockery at the expense of Hector’s First World problems, as Chelsom deploys a strong supporting cast (Toni Collette, Jean Reno) to call out Hector on his do-gooding.

As for Pegg, this is more dramatic fare than usual and he meets the challenge, confirming the hints in The World’s End that he has ambitions beyond comedy. Pegg makes Hector a likeably flawed everyman and achieves enough serenity to suggest his own search is over.

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