Musings on ‘I Heart Huckabees’
I thought about writing a traditional review of ‘I Heart Huckabees’, but watching the film for the second time proved to be a chastening experience, halting me from just blithely tap tapping away, and instead got me thinking, some proper brain churning, on a more deeper level (careful, this could be dangerous), This DVD was yet another bargain purchase from Poundland, which kinda makes a moot point that there probably isn’t much of a demand for an existential comedy when it sits alongside low budget horror films and z list celebrity keep fit DVD’s in a discount store.
With a stellar cast including heavyweights like Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin, David O. Russell is able to make a film which gets you thinking about your own purpose on this planet. I found myself enduring a peculiar spiritual experience post-viewing, and I began to question exactly what I was doing with my life.
The next day I had to work one of my few remaining shifts as a Security Officer. If ever there is an existential job, then it is the role of a Security Officer in a department store. You wander about in a decidedly pointless fashion, looking for something that is unlikely to occur, under the guise that you have some authority, when in reality you have none. There is time, too much time to think about nonsense, or in the case of yesterday, evaluate the point of my existence.
You could argue that the pursuit of writing about films is without point or purpose. Sometimes a few hundred people will read this. Then you think, if they’re reading this, then what they are doing with their time, looking up a film which was released in 2004. This review has little influence, or doesn’t contribute alongside the critical buzz that might dictate whether a film becomes a box office hint because that time has already gone.
However one person might be looking up Naomi Watts’s filmography on Google because of her recent performance as Princess Di. They might be curious about her previous work, stumble upon this review, which will say that ‘I Heart Huckabees’ is a film worth watching, and then watch ‘I Heart Huckabees’. That film might then become life changing, or life altering. It might get them thinking about their own existence; which means that just maybe this piece might inadvertently contribute to a higher purpose and therefore an argument can be made that perhaps this review matters after all.
Written post 9/11 David O. Russell’s ‘I Heart Huckabees’ can be seen as a response to America’s wave of morality free corporate greed in the Bush years. The department store chain Huckabees represents the regime. Albert Markovski (played by Jason Schwartzman) is the moral crusader, an environmentalist unsure about what it is that he is fighting for. He campaigns to save the world, albeit on a local scale by stopping a proposal for a new Huckabees store, but his pursuit for environmental justice is interrupted by his own personal issues and insecurities.
Albert visits a couple of existential detectives, a couple called Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Hoffman and Tomlin), in the hope that they can help him get to the bottom of a series of coincidences that occurred in his life involving randomly bumping into a lanky Somalian refugee on three separate occasions. The Jaffe’s follow Albert around, trying to help him to get out of his crisis; they pair him up with his ‘other’, an hot headed firefighter named Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg), who is another lost soul.
Tommy influences Albert to consider other options, other philosophies, other possibilities. He introduces Albert to a former student of the Jaffes called Caterine Vauban. Vauban encourages Tommy and Albert to exist in a state of ‘pure being’, to attain this they must forget or escape their troubles. She explains that essentially their fears and anxieties are meaningless.
I haven’t even mentioned Jude Law, who turns in a wonderfully dysfunctional performance as the narcissistic Brad Stand, Albert’s nemesis. Brad is a corporate suit representing Huckabees, who is egotistical and superficial. He comes to realize that his entire life is built on hot air and deflates when his ego gets popped. This realization occurs when the Jaffe’s deconstruct a chicken salad based Shania Twain anecdote that Brad repeatedly tells.
Where to start with ‘I Heart Huckabees’, or should I ask myself where to end?
I mentioned earlier that I contemplated the point my own existence. I’ve come to accept that there may not be a point to anything, but whilst I exist within the confines of this society, I will act my part. It is only recently, unsure exactly what part I am supposed to be playing, that I have realized that it is better instead to “be”, and that acting really has no purpose. To “be” is to acknowledge the existence of my fellow man. Not getting caught up in solipsistic panic and refusing to acknowledge cartesian anxiety.
Therefore through writing this review I am attempting to connect with an unseen reader by clumsily eeking out nearly a thousand vague philosophical words. ‘I Heart Huckabees’ is a film that caters not to a whole audience, but to the individual. Every single person who watches it will get something different from the viewing experience. Well, in my opinion this is the case. You could also argue that ‘I Heart Huckabees’ appeals to stupidly complicated neurotics who take themselves too seriously, and relate to the fruitless search for something that they aren’t even aware of.