I said a few entries ago that I have a bias toward movies set in San Francisco. If a movie is set in that city, I am almost guaranteed to love it, regardless if the content is good or not. The Pursuit of Happyness is one of those good content San Francisco movies.
It stars Will Smith as Chris Gardner, and is based on his true story. Set in my favourite city in the early 1980s, the film starts with us seeing into his troubled marriage. She soon leaves him for a job in New York, leaving their son, Chris Jr., with him. Soon he is homeless because he can’t afford rent.
He gets into an internship at Dean Witter to become a stockbroker. At this same time, he’s struggling.
One reason I love this movie so much is because I have a somewhat personal connection. I was homeless for six month from 2006 – 2007. It really changes you. Before, I would be picky about everything and would toss out food if it wasn’t perfect. Now I’ll drink coffee even if it’s cold or eat spaghetti even if there’s no salt. I sometimes complain about it being too hot in my apartment, but I also know I could be freezing outside right now.
I visited the city in 2011. Not realizing how expensive everything is, I naively only brought $200, thinking that’d be more than enough. It was the first time I ever visited a major city. Needless to say, I was broke within a couple days. I ended up having to stay at a shelter. I didn’t know until later that it was the very one Chris Gardner and his son stayed at. I am happy to report the conditions there are better these days. I even took a picture of myself in there. Keep in mind, this is after six days in San Francisco:
So when I see those scenes, I feel the connection both because I’ve been homeless and because I’ve had to stay at that same place.
It’s also Chris Gardner’s overall story I find amazing, not just the parts put on film. Yes, the film changed several things (he was homeless years, not months, his son was an infant, not five years old, etc). If you get a chance, read his story.