Went to see "The Pursuit of Happyness" last night with a friend from my writer's group. He wanted to see it with a single parent who would 'get it', and I sure did. The film is relentlessly grim for the first hour or so, and that was hard. Even harder was the portion of the film when he had hit absolute rock bottom...
But our conversation afterward was good, and I ended up feeling better about the past 12 years of being a mom than I have in a long time.
I have concerns about the film, and I'm unsure what people will take away from it. It did not make any statement on the fragility of the family, choosing instead to show how this particular family fell apart. It did not show any other homeless families - I don't recall seeing any even in a scene in a 'women and children' shelter. It's as though Chris Gardener and his son were the only homeless family in Oakland. There was stuff that is really difficult to articulate here, but I'll just be blunt: I find it difficult to believe that he didn't encounter more, um, racism in his pursuit of a brokerage job at Dean Witter. Just sayin'.
And to me it is crazy to make a film like that and not make an explicit statement about the state of society. Obviously Chris Gardener believes in making his own way, and that's not bad. But to me it is so wrong that some people can be so broke and others so well off and have little mediating that gap. Man, I'm such a socialist (I'm just *meant* to be a social scientist). It was heartening to see him make it after all of that trial, but it was portrayed as happening in such a vacuum, that bothered me.
But it was a good film in many ways, Jaden Smith, who is Will Smith's real-life son, did a wonderful job as his movie son. There were some moments where I just cried because there was a 6-year-old boy on the screen. My 7-year-old has some of the same mannerisms, and the wonderful physical presence that children have at that age. And one scene in which the father is very close to his breaking point and yelling at his crying son just sent me over the edge. Being at that breaking point with a kid to take care of is pretty harsh.
So I guess I am recommending it. Plus it's a film with black people in it (although with the exception of Thandie Newton and two bit parts, the only black characters in it are Will and Jaden Smith).
Today my exhusband is having a really hard time with the whole single parenting thing, and I wonder if seeing this film will help him or not. For me it renewed by urge to fight for the family and life that I want. And that is a good thing.