The Pursuit of Happiness movie is one of the great hidden gems on Netflix

Ever since we first saw the light of the world, we’ve all been racing against the clock hoping for a chance at happiness. This thirst for happiness, pathological and very often criminal if it is considered as having to be obtained at all costs, is certainly one of the poisons of postmodern life, this pool of openness in which man bathes with enthusiasm, and after a certain age, episodes where apparently sane individuals make ridiculous or, even worse, perverse decisions, all in the name of such a right to be, are frequent. Wanting reparations for erroneous attitudes throughout a lifetime, one opts for an illusory path, one of buffoonish, artificial, deceptive happiness, the tricks of which leave traces of misfortune on the road of those who throw themselves into this abyss and even for those who observe the grotesque spectacle at close range, but they can do nothing. The suffering which results from a behavior which, a priori, aimed only the good is so harmful because this supposed good considered only one variable of a complex equation, the resolution of which is all the more delicate as it encompasses factors that unfold in many others.

Promoted at the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, “Gente de Bem” (2018) revolves around these questions and more. As in Tim Burton’s “Big Fish and Its Wonderful Stories” (2003), Anders Hill, the protagonist of Nicole Holofcener’s film played by the charismatic Ben Mendelsohn, becomes a relentless disaster from the moment it ends, regardless many of the method, that your life urgently needs a turn. For him, this means ending the union of more than three decades, which he considers hopelessly stagnant, and parting ways with his wife, Hélène, from the ever-great Edie Falco; to withdraw from a boring job on the financial market, which he does without any drama of conscience – and in this he is perfectly right -; finding time to do more physical activity, perhaps cutting down on his alcohol intake, which he fails miserably; and devote himself to putting the new house in order, going to the decoration stores to occupy a section, also preferably taking the time to flirt with the proposed saleswomen and take them to bed, even if the sexual act is n is not consumed. At first glance, Anders’ life is chaotic and, predictably, manages to make his situation a little more ruinous, trying to be the devoted father, a role he had never been interested in, to Preston, another fine performance, from Thomas Mann, in the 47th minute of the second half. Not to mention Charlie Tahan’s friendship with Charlie as Preston, a recovering drug addict, which, yes, quite a dramatic relationship. Visibly uncomfortable with the importance of Helene’s boyfriend, Bill Camp’s character, who first takes the place of a male figure in the lives of his ex-wife and son, and ends up By showing himself willing to do much more than that, Anders gradually realizes that he may have made the biggest mistake of his life, a mistake for which there may be no possible remedy. Without his job, lost his family, the relationship with the son all troubled, aimless, maybe he won’t even recover. Holofcener’s screenplay highlights the mental disorder of its central character by betting on sequences like the one where Anders, in poignant solitude, prepares the end-of-year decoration of the house in which he begins to live, empty, cold, hostile, the very antithesis of Christmas. In the same way that he, who had already spent so many Christmases so different from this one, had also become the negation of the man he had been until very recently.

The stylistic and narrative choices of Nicole Holofcener, who embraces a story so common that it seems banal – and for this reason so human and dignified -, lend themselves precisely to giving something sophisticated to all this naturalness of life such as She is. The director hit the nail on the head by allowing that aura of disenchantment to become palpable to the viewer, especially in a time of so much manufactured, ready-made, unnatural happiness. Breaking this ice is something truly professional, and thus “Gente de Bem” shows itself well beyond the surface.


Film: good people
Direction: Nicole Holofcener
Year: 2018
Gender: Drama/Comedy
To note: 9/10

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