And the Pursuit of Happiness

Director: Louis Malle
Year Released: 1986
Rating: 2.5

Frenchman Malle sets out to interview several immigrants to the United States (from Thailand, Costa Rica, Cambodia, India and so forth), find out about their experiences and get around to investigating whether it's possible to retain one's original culture in the face of American Barbarism (hot dogs, the cinema, pop music, belligerent children). Malle is (obviously) a much better fiction filmmaker than documentarian - he's curious, concerned and polite instead of probing, so as a 'visual journalist' he raises some questions but doesn't exactly 'delve.' Sure, he tosses someone outspoken like Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott in there, but that's as trenchant as this gets: otherwise, it's polite families, a kind doctor, a patriotic Romanian jogger, a patient Border Control guard. Malle as a documentary filmmaker also talks over his subjects too much: he needed to let their words tell the story.