Here’s what makes I Heart Huckabees the perfect introduction to philosophy

2014 David O. Russell independent film I Heart Huckabees is anything but an ordinary comedy. It’s an unusual, quirky, joyous and thought-provoking love letter to philosophy. The Guardian describes I Heart Huckabees as the first post-9/11 comedy; after the attacks of September 11, people are asking questions about the meaning of life. Who are we? What do we do? Is it good enough? Is it useless to try to change things? What if nothing makes sense? I Heart Huckabees tries to find answers to these kinds of existential questions with a witty sense of humor.

The film received mixed reviews from audiences and critics, with The New Yorker noting: “huckabees is the real thing – a real disaster – but the image is so strange that it should inspire, at least in part of the audience, feelings of fervent loyalty.” While some consider it a delightful masterpiece , this really isn’t a movie for everyone, but I Heart Huckabees allows the public to access philosophical ideas.


I Heart Huckabees focused more explicitly on philosophy than most other films. In fact, the whole point of the film is a confrontation between existentialism and nihilism. The first form of philosophical inquiry explores the value of human existence, the second says that life is meaningless. The film’s protagonist, along with the audience, is faced with a choice: either believe that everything is connected and life is worth living, or agree that nothing is connected and the world is just a mess. .

The existential crisis of I Heart Huckabees

I Heart Huckabees is a film about characters in existential crisis. The film centers on Albert Markovski (played by Jason Schwartzman), a bad poet who wants to save “open spaces” from the growth of suburban areas. His current mission is to prevent the construction of the new Huckabees store. In the moving opening scene, Albert questions the purpose of his work as an environmental activist and is tormented by thoughts about the meaning of his life. Strange coincidences lead him to an unusual couple who call themselves existential detectives, Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (played by Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), promise to help Albert break free from his existential crisis.

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Bernard and Vivian study Albert’s case by spying on him everywhere; “There’s nothing too small. You know when the police find the tiniest bit of DNA and build a case on it? If we could see you flossing or masturbating, that could be the key to everything. your reality,” says Vivian. They realize that Albert’s conflict with the always perfect, smiling Huckabees salesman Brad Stand (played by Jude Law) means a lot. Thus, Brad also becomes a client of the existential detectives.

The Jaffes peek into the souls of their clients using philosophical methods. The two represent two different perspectives that work perfectly together and help the couple express a common optimistic idea about universal interconnectedness. Bernard adopts a metaphysical perspective and studies the fundamental nature of reality (fusing Buddhism with ontology). He is a dreamy philosopher with beautiful theories that are difficult to compare to reality.

One of these theories is “the cover”. Bernard tells Albert that the blanket can easily represent all matter and energy in the universe. Coverage is everything. Vivian pays more attention to detail, rather than Bernard’s big metaphysical ideas. It represents another branch of philosophy, epistemology (or the theory of knowledge). She carefully studies client cases and always takes notes, played to perfection by Netflix’s Lily Tomlin Grace and Frankie. Detectives’ varying approaches lead their clients to existentialism, a philosophical belief stemming from Jean-Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard and Simone de Beauvoir, theorizing that we can create meaning in our own lives even when there is no of absolute meaning.

Of course, it’s not that simple; At first, Albert feels that Bernard and Vivian’s nice talk about universal interconnection isn’t helping. So when Bernard and Vivian introduce him to their other client Tommy as Albert’s “other”, Albert goes with Tommy to the dark side of philosophy.

dark side of philosophy

Tommy Corn (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a disillusioned firefighter who thinks the biggest problem in the world is oil exploration. He only believes in the ideas of Catherine Vauban. Caterine (played by Isabelle Huppert) represents nihilism; she is the dark lady of French philosophy, the author of the book If not now. “Existence is a cruel exercise in suffering, the world is the scene of an absurd and meaningless drama, our universe is the unexplained circus,” she writes on her fiction site. Although Catherine Vauban is a character in I Heart Huckabeesshe drew heavily on the works of Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alan Pratt, Martin Heidegger and others.

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Albert must go beyond Catherine’s most nihilistic ideas to find meaning in the pain of existence. Jean-Paul Sartre did the same in his remarkable text Existentialism is a humanism. One of France’s greatest philosophers, Sartre said that people are “doomed to be free” so “man’s destiny is placed within himself”. Thus, we can only deal with the idea that nothing has meaning by creating our own meaning.

In the film, Catherine Vauban had been a pupil of Bernard and Vivian Jaffe. Albert and Tommy began to suspect that knowledge of nihilistic philosophy was part of the existential detectives’ plan. Indeed, after all their philosophical adventures, Bernard’s blanket theory has become clearer to them. As Bernard says, “When you get the cover, you can relax, because whatever you could want or be, you already have and you are.” The same discoveries can await anyone who dares to take David O. Russell’s bizarre film seriously.

Morpheus in shades sits in his red chair

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