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I Heart Huckabees

An existential comedy 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from I Heart Huckabees

The tag line 'existential comedy' for I Heart Huckabees is very apt; this is a kooky, quirky, inventive film that tackles the meaning of life.

A young, poetic environmentalist Albert Markovski (Schwartzman) is keen to save his local wood and marsh from destruction while a charming sales executive from the Huckabees retail enterprise (Law) glazes over the bohemian issues with shallow publicity stunts. In his
disillusion Markovski turns to a pair of existential detectives for help in deciphering meaning in his life.

Cue Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin as a splendid comic duo who open our protagonist's eyes to theories of existence. They encourage Markovski to dismantle his personality, his associations and take on a holistic view of life where everything is connected.

Yet the rival, nihilist philosophy of the French writer Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert) contradicts this more optimistic perspective by teaching that our lives are futile, barren and meaningless. Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg) begins to adopt Vauban's views and takes our protagonist with him on a search for pure being.

We want to solve the coincidences. Why is Markovski always seeing a large African man?  What happened to his cat when he was young?  Which philosophy will win out?  David O. Russel has made an inspired movie, in the vein of David Lynch or Donald Kaufman. The cinematography is abstract and dreamy in places to illustrate the philosophies mentioned. The lens of the camera takes us into this imaginative world, and we must be prepared to go along with the ride. The ensemble cast are impressive and their performances are committed to Russel's tone and vision. This is not laugh-out-loud comedy, but the surrealist wit and caricatures do amuse.

We feel exhilarated, belittled, hopeless, bored, and inspired in this roller coaster of human experience and its search for understanding. Markovski shouts in irritation that no one asks the big questions until something terrible happens to them and the rest of the time they don't give a damn. I hope he is wrong.  See this film, open your minds and ask the big questions because sometimes it can be fun just to try! 

Nicola Cutcher

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)