Happiness for Beginners: Why Mason was durable but Helen was actually tough

What makes “Happiness for Beginners”, which lands on NetFlix this week, interesting on a couple of levels is that is measures the actions of it’s characters by their experiences, and not by the way they seem to be.

And if you’ve seen the film (if you’re here you likely have) I’m talking about two of the complete opposite characters in Helen, our main protagonist, an English teacher going through a divorce who is trying to discover herself, and Mason, a strong trader that exudes so much confidence he gets the trail name “Wall Street”.

While it’s easy to see a struggling Helen as the weaker of the two characters, filmmakers give us a very real scenario where their true characters very much play out in front of us.

After dominating most of the hike (which is a beginners hike by the way) we observe Mason freeze when Hugh gets injured during an exercise where the strongest hikers are mixed with the weaker ones. Things get real for a few moments when Hugh starts to hallucinate.

While appearances would dictate Mason to step up and be the hero, it’s actually Helen who takes charge and ends up saving the entire trip.

Mason may be stronger. He may be able to take more physical punishment, but that makes him durable. Helen despite getting hurt before the hike even starts and earning the nickname “Speed Bump” is tougher.

“Happiness” proves that point kindly. We even see Mason get redemption towards the end of the film.

We don’t get examples like this pointed out to us very often but they’re valid. It’s real life. Toughness doesn’t always mean physical strength but mental toughness as well.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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ALSO how the characters in “Happiness for Beginners” likely got their trail names HERE


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