PG 13, 2006 ‧ Drama/Biography ‧ 2h 25m
So, who hasn’t seen the Pursuit of Happyness?
I’m asking a rhetorical question here, because this movie was definitely one to watch, and I’d be surprised to learn that there are more than a handful of people out there who haven’t seen it. Are you one of them?
I may be overreaching with the handful thing, but seriously, this movie has true meaning. It’s based on the real life story of Chris Gardner and his nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. If perchance you haven’t seen it, go rent it now, before you finish reading this review. It’s that good! If you enjoy rejoicing with people who overcome insurmountable odds, you’ll love this.
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12: 15)
There’s a lot of awesomeness happening in this movie, but my take home is about how I watched a wife crumble under the weight of living a life that she never envisioned for herself.
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) are already struggling in their marriage when he decides to invest his entire life savings into what appears to be a promising business. (Ouch!) Financially, he (and his wife) put everything on the line. That’s undoubtedly a very scary thing for any wife to accept. It was a bold, all-or-nothing move. But what if life (by God’s design) hands you the “nothing” side of the coin?
Eventually, things got hard, really hard for the Chris and Linda. And eventually, Chris and his young son do end up homeless, and he endures and struggles through the hardest time of his life without his wife – without someone by his side to make the tasks more bearable, to make the disappointments lighter, to share the joys and satisfactions.
But where is his wife Linda? Linda is gone. She left somewhere in between hard and really hard.
I never promised you a rose garden
Linda didn’t believe in her husband’s vision for the family. She rejected it. It wasn’t packaged neatly and it wasn’t yielding any immediate fruit. Though they both had mediocre jobs, when her husband told her about his vision to become a stockbroker she insulted him by saying, “Why not an astronaut?” She shot down his dreams. When he eventually got a much coveted internship at a prestigious company, she said, “Salesman to intern is going backwards.”
Linda was expecting a bed of roses from her life with Chris, not bushel of thorns. At one point in the movie she tells Chris, “You’re the one who dragged us down.” Her life wasn’t going the way she had planned, they were struggling greatly and she didn’t’ agree with or respect his business decisions. She needed him to get on with the business of paying bills, not dreaming of grandiose plans to take to have a better life. If she didn’t understand or agree with his plan she was a resentful partner.
Linda made a regrettable decision, but I can relate to her sense of despair. I’ve been where she was, feeling like my life was one bad ride that I desperately wanted to get off of. When my husband and I were newly married, he was very ambitious and entrepreneurial in spirit. He had big dreams and sought the path to financial independence through various sales jobs. He even had his own commercial cleaning service. But a new wife and four kids in three years has a way of knocking the wind right out of a man’s entrepreneurial sails. Well, that . . . and me. I knocked the wind out of his sails, too.
I didn’t understand why he wanted to “own his own.” If he didn’t have a permanent job with steady income, benefits, paid vacation and a 401K plan, then what was the point? Much like in Chris Gardner’s, my hubby’s financial path wasn’t packaged neatly and it wasn’t yielding any immediate fruit; at least not enough fruit for our seriously burgeoning family.
We went through really hard times, and I never left, but I wanted to. Not because I didn’t love him or because he didn’t make sound financial decisions (because he did), but because I was tired of the pressures of life: the constant hard times and endless bickering about everything; and the finances just made it worse. I was weak. And I didn’t have the emotional fortitude to live that kind of life – not after being raised with a sense of privilege. Linda left, but I stayed. Christ makes all the difference!
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Believe in your husband and his vision for your family. Trust him and follow him. At one point in the movie after Linda has left, Chris asks his son, “Do you trust me?” “Yes,” says his son. “I need you to trust me,” replies Chris. Our husbands need us to trust them. If you can’t trust your husband at least trust in God. He holds your very life in his hands. There could be worse things than experiencing poverty due to falling on hard times. You could have good times with no husband and a cold bed! I’d rather have very little with my husband (and we’ve been there) than much without him.