13 Conversations About One Thing: Must Watch Movies #11
I knew I had to love this movie ‘cos I’ve got a thing for movies with philosophical undercurrents. This movie explores the concept of what it means to be happy. It traces the experiences of 4 New Yorker’s as they go about their Pursuit of Happiness. The life of the characters change dramatically & irreversibly after some incidents. Ultimately happiness is an inside job & it depends on our own disposition & how we choose to interpret/view the incidents that happen to us.
A lawyer, Troy (Matthew McConaughey) is guilt ridden after his car hits a woman, Beatrice (Clea DuVall) & instead of helping her out he just runs away. Both their lives change thereafter. Troy suffers from guilt pangs & Beatrice’s faith is shaken as she tries to find reason ‘why it happened to her’. Just before the accident Troy was another successful, carefree young Professional who was very confident in having his life all figured out. . But that accident changes everything. He is never able to forget the incident or forgive himself. Embedded in Troy’s story is the Law of Invisible Karmic Justice. He escaped the Law of the Land for his accident but couldn’t escape the Karmic Laws. His remorse (which overtook rest of the things in his life) was his punishment. You can run, you can hide but you cannot escape the fruits of your Karma.
A bored physics professor, Walker is looking for happiness beyond the content but routine life he is living with his wife. When asked what he really wants out of life by his wife, Patricia (Amy Irving), he answers: “What everyone wants: to wake up enthused, to experience life, to be happy.” Apparently he does so by having an affair with a colleague. Not a smart choice as he ends up losing both his wife & girl friend. In his own words ‘the consequences of our actions are IRREVERSIBLE.’ Once we make the choices we have to be ready face the consequences. Again the happiness depends on our own outlook. He claims to be bored but perhaps he wouldn’t have been so if he was alive to those around him. He fails to notice the misery of his wife & his student who commits suicide.
A middle level manager in an insurance company, Gene (Alan Arkin) has worked hard to get his current position but loses his family along the way. He is embittered & is irritated by his ever smiling colleague Wade Bowman (William Wise). Bowman is a guy who can put a positive spin on almost any circumstances. When out of his irritation & subconscious desire for revenge Gene fires him, Bowman says it’s his chance at a vacation which he always wanted to take. Bowman represents the key to happiness, if there is one, is to choose to be happy despite the external circumstances. That is the only way happiness is possible.
The film keeps one entirely hooked because there are multiple stories weaved around the theme of human desire to be happy, the meaning of happiness, trying to make sense of our experiences……