A Sisyphus in Each of Us: a movie review of “The Pursuit of Happyness”


Disclaimer: this post was written as my last assignment for the "Cross-Cultural Understanding" subject on my English Extension Course, Sanata Dharma University. Well, yeah, kind of "urik" because I just still can't find a time for writing a blog post. But speaking of which, I made an A grade for the subject. Wohoooo!! So, enjoy my piece. :)


There are not many good movies I know. For a non-movie freak, all I know is only Forrest Gump and Radio. Both are perspective-changing movies and made me burst into cry. I already heard about The Pursuit of Happyness (PH), but I did not take it seriously before as a must-have watch movie.

One thing a movie considered as a good one is when it doesn’t fulfil our expectations and gives us a totally different angle from an ordinary story. It is called twist. And PH has them both.

A man named Chris lives in San Fransisco with his wife and a son. He is a salesman of a bone checker device which its weight equals with a cashier machine. He carried that stuff every day, sells from one hospital to another. The conflict of the story appears once his income can not meet his family necessity anymore. It is been a while after he sold his last device.

Long story short, Chris had a lot of debt to pay. Meanwhile, he got nothing on his cheque. His bankruptcy tale did not stop there. Once he had some money, the government cut out the money to pay the taxes. He was totally broke to the bones. He decided to survive with his son always by his side. After dumped from his previous apartment and motel, he spent nights on train/subway or join in line so that he could get free meals and a bed for his son.

PH does not offer you gold and glitters of America. All you see is someone who struggles just to gives a proper life to his family. You will get another side of America which rarely to find in Hollywood movies.

Let’s compare—a bit
If a man like Chris had lived in Indonesia, things would have changed. He might not have to become a homeless man and his wife would not leave him. His support system would help him right away. His son might be stayed and looked after by a relative. His wife could work as a maid not far from home. Chris himself could find another job from his own family because here, in Indonesia, it seems impossible for a man like him had a chance to be an intern as an entry-level job for six months long.

Let's talk about reality. Most of the job vacancy in Indonesia requires an applicant who is twenty-something years old with high GPA and expected to have at least two years of experience. It is not the end. If the job demands you with high mobility, then you should be single, not married, or whatever it is as if your marital status would be determined your work perform. On the other hand, some companies usually do not beneficial enough that they rarely give health insurance and limited maternity leaves for women employee.

This is one a point where I realized there is a different value between American people and us—Indonesian. Not only about equality in jobs field, but also the way parents raise their kids and how it affected the next generation. Chris, as an American person, has taught to live separately and being independent (no matter his parents were still alive or not). When he chooses to have a family, then his whole family is in his full responsibility.

Beside of The American value of hard work, Chris also a positive person who still wants to gives himself a try. He never forgets to say “thank you” to the person he talked to even though he failed to sell a single device. He keeps cheering his son up—no matter how bad the situation is.

Whenever I see his struggle, it resembles me of the myth about Sisyphus: you trying so damn hard to bring a huge stone uphill just to rolls it downside, you did it over and over without knowing when it would be ended. You were tired but you gotta did it somehow because that is the only thing you could do for life. For living.

And that is something reflects in all of us.

PH brings a vivid picture for me. No matter how great, economically established a country where you were lived in, you gotta hard work. Even if it is the United States. There was a possibility for Chris to just being a taken for granted citizen, but he refused it. He fought back. He has a strong faith within himself. He insisted to move forward. He believes that he could achieve anything he wants. This is a foundation someone needs to have in this life.[]

“If you want something, go get it. Period.”
Chris Gardner,
-The Pursuit of Happyness

PS: this picture above was taken from Pinterest. Thank you.

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