3 1/2 Stars
Looking to better his life for himself and his son, Chris enter into a competitive internship at Dean Witter to become a stockbroker. During this unpaid period of employment Gardner is forced to confront the reality of homelessness, the worst of which is a night spent cradling his young son in a subway bathroom. If I have made The Pursuit of Happyness sound relentlessly depressing that’s because it is.
The revelation here isn’t Will Smith, who gives an Oscar nominated performance, but we saw glimpses of that depth and range in Ali. It is the younger Smith, Jaden that is the discovery here. A true screen actor even at a precocious age, Jaden matches his father beat for beat. The bond on-screen is so effective that it brings a ray of hopefulness to an otherwise numbing story.
Those familiar with the real-life outcome of Chris Gardner’s life, will be waiting for that glorious moment to arrive, long before it actually does. Hence is the struggle when reviewing a film as involving (and draining) as The Pursuit of Happyness. Do I tell you how brilliant the acting is? Or do I confess that watching Will Smith get the piss kicked out of him by life’s trials left me feeling wrung-out and down?
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton