by Olga Meserman
October 26, 2020
The Pursuit of Happyness, directed by Gabriele Muccino, is a heartwarming cinematic biography based on the life of a struggling salesman trying to keep his life from falling apart. Will Smith and his eight-year-old son Jaden star as Chris Gardner and his five-year-old son Chris Jr. Additional appearances are made by Thandie Newton, James Karen, and Kurt Fuller. This movie was one of the highlights of 2006 and still remains a great choice if you’re looking for a touching story that illustrates all the ups and downs life can throw at you. The movie starts out by introducing Chris as a seemingly content businessman who invests all of his savings in portable bone-density scanners. However, his lack of sales forces his wife to work double shifts as a maid, resulting in problems for their marriage. Chris then lands an unpaid internship at a stockbroking company and competes with twenty people for a single position, circumstances that only make his marriage deteriorate. Before long, he and his wife split, and as a result, Chris Jr. is left with his father, who attempts to keep their life together as everything around them is falling apart. While attempting to make ends meet, Chris has to make sure his son is taken care of. Throughout the movie, the audience can see how hard he works so that his son won’t have to sleep in shelters or on bathroom floors.
The portrayal of Chris’ bond with his son is perfect. Chris Jr. is a sweet and adorable kid who has no clue what’s going on in his life. The beginning of the movie makes you feel genuine empathy toward Chris; both the actor and director elicit empathy brilliantly. This movie is suspenseful and sad and shows that there is hope for anyone. I really enjoyed how it integrated the issues of both the father and the son. In one scene, Chris Jr. drops his only toy, an action figure, on the ground just as he and his dad are about to get on a bus. When he tries to pick it up, his dad won’t let him, because then he’ll be late for his meeting and won’t get the job he’s seeking. This scene ends with the five-year-old tearfully leaning against the bus window, watching his one toy move farther and farther away. Another moving scene revolves around the difficulties the father and son face after they don’t get into a shelter for the evening. In a low and desperate point of the movie, Chris has to take his son into a bathroom stall of a train station to sleep for the night. The Pursuit of Happyness portrays well what it’s like to make your way up from what seems like rock bottom; in doing so, it causes the audience to feel grateful for what they have. And with an appearance from the real-life Chris Gardner at the end, The Pursuit of Happyness is surely a movie you don’t want to miss.