© Twentieth Century Fox of Germany GmbH

I Heart Huckabees
U.S.A./Germany 2004

Opening 12 May 2005

Directed by: David O. Russell
Writing credits: David O. Russell, Jeff Baena
Principal actors: Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law

Writer/director David O. Russell (Three Kings) has tackled quite a theme in his first film in five years, I ♥ Huckabees: the essence of existence itself. The film is billed as an “existential comedy” that is “all about what it’s all about”. Huckabees starts by introducing (amid a string of profanity – be forewarned!) environmental activist Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman of Rushmore), who is convinced that a series of coincidences involving a tall African man are the key to understanding what life is all about. In order to decipher the meaning of the coincidences, he consults a pair of existential detectives (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), who follow him around to see if clues in his daily life can lead to the answer. They soon encounter Brad Stand (Jude Law), a corporate executive with the Huckabees store chain with whom Albert has had some run-ins, and Brad’s girlfriend and Huckabees spokesmodel Dawn (Naomi Watts). As Albert and the detectives dig deeper, they assign him a buddy, Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), who is also struggling with the meaning of life, but soon both Tommy and Albert start to lose faith in the detectives and in the fact that there is any hope in life…

In some ways, Huckabees is a classic social satire – railing on materialism, corporate culture, greed, wastefulness, and many of the other things wrong with contemporary American culture. But what is unique about this film is its ability to make the audience feel like a character in the film, asking the same questions as Albert and Tommy and flipping back and forth between positive and negative outlooks on life as often as they do. All the actors are great in their roles, and though the themes are deep, the comedy helps lighten the mood. Not everyone will ♥ Huckabees, but for those who enjoy a little philosophy with their films, it’s the place to be. (Kirsten Greco)

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