The Feel-Good Film “Hector” is in Search of an Audience

Finally, spring has sprung.

Canada has emerged from its winter of discontent. So instead of ranting and raging, Lear-like, against the usual forces of darkness: the bloated CBC, the fiscally irresponsible Kathleen Wynne, and The Unbearable Being of Nothingness known as Trudeau Jr., I thought I would post something warm, fuzzy, and life-affirming. Instead of dark, depressing, and soul-destroying.

So, here goes a brief commentary of a very under-rated but enjoyable film, based upon a deceptively smart and wise screenplay. It is beautifully written with depth, complexity, and understanding. The film? Hector and the Search for Happiness.

It stars Simon Pegg (The World’s End and Hot Fuzz) as Hector, and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl; but more about her later) as his long-suffering girlfriend. Hector is directed by Peter Chelson and the screenplay was written by the said Chelson, along with Maria von Helad and Tinker Lindsay.

Full disclosure of my conflict of interest. I am terribly biased. I wish I could say I was paid thousands of dollars to shill (or to Lang) for this film a la CBC’s infamous Amanda Lang. Or that I am in a deeply romantic/erotic sado-masochistic relationship with Rosamund, but alas, neither are the case.

I do however, consider myself a friend of one of the screenwriters, Tinker Lindsay. Tinker and I were at Harvard together in the 70s. And like most callow college men on campus, I had a crush on the very beautiful, elusive, and seemingly ephemeral Tinker (pictured below). She was a legend among us men in the Harvard Yard: adorable, smart, artistic, a tough spiritual, and totally out of our league.

Tinker Lindsay10

But this was many decades before Facebook. The legend of Tinker Lindsay spread by word of mouth, as opposed to through cyberspace.

Post Harvard, we had heard she had “gone Hollywood,” married some well-known actor, and became a writer. Years later, I learned that Tinker had helped write Hector and I tracked her down through Facebook, thus renewing our friendship. Brilliant and talented, Tinker shared with me her experience of writing this film.

In effect, she gave me an insider peek into this film. So, of course, when it was released in Ontario I went to see it a few times. What struck me about this film was how superior the actual movie was to its trailer. I have come to believe that this was one of the key problems that impeded Hector’s success and shot at more widespread popularity. The trailer was perhaps too upbeat, too feel-good, and too warm and fuzzy. It was one of those trailers that seemed to show all the best jokes and reveal the essential story-line. So why bother going to see the actual film?

In fact, the actual film, which I urge one and all to check out on DVD or Netflix, was much darker, sexier, and disturbing.

Unlike the superficial trailer, the dialogue crackled. The main characters were complex and flawed; they were more unlovable than portrayed, and thus more interesting and compelling. Some scenes and language resonated for me the first time, some more so on the second and third viewing.  As the main characters evolved, there were subtle changes in their personalities.

Rosamund Pike was a revelation. In some ways, she gave a more chilling performance, both literally and figuratively, than in her psychotic and sociopathic Gone Girl role. And though I am not a big fan of Simon Pegg, he gradually won me over with his honest portrayal of a stunted man-child, throwing himself into crazy situations (clearly outside of his comfort zone) in order to force himself out of the predictable and boring life he had created for himself.

The above is just an amuse bouche. A tempting mouthful. But I guarantee the full film will leave you fulfilled.

I do not know about you, but I feel pretty happy about this effort.

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