...And the pursuit of happiness
Time Out saysA companion piece to God's Country, in which Malle continues his exploration of America. The theme is immigrants, starting with a lone Rumanian touring Texas on foot in homage to his adoptive home. Success stories follow, among them a whole string of bright kids winning acceptance at Ivy League universities, at MIT, as America's first immigrant astronaut. Then there is the other side of the coin: black residents driven to violent resentment on a housing development in Houston when Vietnamese start displacing them (they have more money, say the blacks; because the blacks are lazy, say the Vietnamese). The pervasive fear - of homes and jobs put at risk by immigrants - surfaces most openly in a vivid survey of the wetback problem, with so many now arriving in quest of illegal employment that all they find is illegal unemployment. A characteristically generous film, marginally less involving than God Country only because the emotional ambivalence of the earlier film (where Malle fell haplessly in love with a community that invites political contempt) is lacking here.