December 30, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Gabriele Muccino, usa 2006

7.5
i'm baffled as to why Gabriele Muccino was chosen to direct this project. not because he did a poor job--he didn't; but because Hollywood usually has their roster of hack directors for these kinds of films and don't look outside of the country much. there aren't any cultural differences in the script that jump out, or any point made about the american system. it's really just a father trying to survive through difficult times. according to the imdb, Will Smith chose him after seeing L'ultimo bacio (the original Last Kiss; maybe he got in through a deal?) and Ricordati di me. i have no idea whether Smith saw these films on his own or as part of director packages. but i would love to hear Gabriele do a commentary for this film because chosing an italian director who hadn't directed a single american film up to this point is definitely interesting and should be followed up on. he definitely got the quiet internal/social drama down. the film starts out conventionally, and awkwardly, enough. but it never tries to be cute. i can't put my finger on when it happened but there is a point where i realized the film had me during the beginning of the second act and i was rooting for Chris up until the end. Smith won't get an Oscar nomination (he's good but the part isn't flashy or as overly-dramatic as required by the academy) but he should be commanded for taking on this project. the casting of his real-life son only adds to the father-son relationship. Christopher isn't really a major character other than being his father's motivation for staying afloat through the ordeals. so Jaden Smith acquits himself nicely in a small part. the film focuses on Gardner's motivation and resilience in the face of adversity (but don't worry, the film doesn't stack up the obstacles just to have Chris overcome them. shit happens. it's ugly. and that's that). come to think of it, it took me a while to realize how relatively innovative the film was in that it didn't have a foe or antagonist for Chris to rebel or fight against. not even the system is blamed for Chris' problems, which i thought was incredibly honorable on the filmmakers' part. there are a couple of small points i had problems with but they don't overshadow the quiet accomplishments this team achieved with this picture. a quietly sweet and touching piece of film.

Posted by Sam | 10:31 PM |