The Pursuit Of Happyness (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/01/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 117 mins

With a terrific central performance by Will Smith, this is a well made, sharply written and ultimately uplifting drama, but it really piles on the misery before you get there.

What's it all about?
Set in 1970s' San Francisco and based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness (don't worry, that annoying spelling plays a key part in the film) stars Will Smith as medical equipment salesman Chris Gardener, who's struggling to provide for his five-year-old son Christopher (Will's real-life son, Jaden Smith), after being abandoned by his miserable wife, Linda (Thandie Newton).

Chris finally wangles himself an internship as a stockbroker, but that means six stressful months without a salary and no guarantee of a job at the end of it. And then, just when Chris thinks things are starting to come together, he runs into a bad luck streak of Biblical proportions.

The Good
Smith is terrific in the lead role, his natural charisma ensures that you're constantly willing him to succeed. Unsurprisingly, he has a natural on-screen rapport with Jaden and their powerful father-son bond is genuinely moving.

The film makes strong use of its locations in San Francisco and is also careful to layer in a few light-hearted scenes amongst the misery, such as Chris getting his first break via his skills with a Rubik's Cube. It also has some great running scenes (Chris chasing after people who steal his medical merchandise etc), proving that Smith is still one of Hollywood's best running actors.

The Bad
If it wasn't based on a true story, the tidal wave of bad luck that befalls Chris would be written off as some sort of miserablist fantasy. As it is, the film seems unduly preoccupied with piling on the misery and it's quite hard to take, although it does make Chris' eventual triumph that much sweeter.

Worth seeing?
This is a powerful, uplifting emotional drama that could land Smith an Oscar nomination come February. Recommended.

Film Trailer

The Pursuit Of Happyness (12A)
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Content updated: 19/08/2018 04:56

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