This is a difficult, wordy little picture that asks a single question: “How do we achieve happiness?” Of course there is no answer, but director Jill Sprecher and her sister, co-screenwriter Karen, offer up four scenarios that offer up interesting variations on the fragile nature of happiness. Matthew McConaughey is Troy a swaggering lawyer who is slowly torn apart by guilt after committing a hit-and-run. Walker (John Turturro) and Patricia’s (Amy Irving) marriage is collapsing under the weight of his infidelity. Beatrice (Clea DuVall), a good-natured young woman who cleans rich people’s houses, has her life and outlook altered forever after a near fatal accident. The final and best storyline involves Gene (Alan Arkin), an insurance claims adjuster who fires his happiest employee simply because he can’t stand to see him smile day after day. This is an odd film – one that takes some warming to – but it does get under your skin, particularly Alan Arkin’s scenes which are played with the skill, insight and timing of a master.
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