Review: I ♥ Huckabees

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What is existentialism? Why do we care?

Existentialism is defined as "a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts".

For the strange and often unapproachable characters in I ♥ Huckabees, each has their own take on what this philosophy might be " so much so that characters often sound like philosophy textbooks in a lot of scenes.

The core story to this very unique but utterly strange film goes something like this.

Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) has been experiencing a chain of unforeseen coincidences and it seems that the only people who can unscramble what is going on are two "existential detectives", Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin). The detectives pry into every aspect of Albert's life, including his conflict with smug department store executive Brad Stand (Jude Law). When his case with the detectives doesn't seem to moving along as quickly as he would like, Albert teams with unhinged firefighter Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg) to find a new direction with the detectives' rival Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert). Can the detectives eventually help Albert? How will Brad's relationship with Huckabees spokes model Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts) affect his relationship with Albert? Who has the best philosophy?

I ♥ Huckabees is one of the strangest but most thought-provoking films I have ever seen. Its interweaving of existential philosophy and structuring of characters is mind-blowing. This is probably a film that people will look back at in years to come and wonder if it still makes sense.

What holds all the heavy-dosed philosophy together throughout the film is the assembly of such a strong cast. From Schwartzman to Watts and Hoffman to Huppert, the film has some of the most surprising performances you will see all year.

I especially loved the performance of Lily Tomlin, who pulls off her role flawlessly and even outshines Dustin Hoffman in some scenes.

Then on the other side of the coin, you have the perky performances of both Law and Watts, which are totally out of this world. I loved the scenes where the "detective philosophy" finally eats away at the vacuous department store model played by Watts. Her transformation and accepting of the philosophy is priceless.

The film is a unique and strange journey which you probably won't understand after only one viewing. But as you leave the theatre and begin to reflect on it as weeks go by, you may just find yourself figuring out exactly what happened to Albert and you, the viewer.

For all its unique and beautifully strange storytelling, I ♥ Huckabees won't be for everybody, and I am sure it may even anger some. It is a shame that this kind of film couldn't be more accessible to all movie-goers. But for me it was quite a journey. (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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