There a lot of movies I love, yet there’s also a plethora of ones I cannot stand. The same can be said when we narrow it down to movies that feature travel. There are the stupid, chick flick, lazy ones. The ones that are over the top. Gratuitous. Yet there are others that for one reason or other have my heart, even with their flaws. So today I’m going to tell you all my top movies with travel in them, and tell you why I love them.
I read the book before watching this movie. The person who I got the book from told me they found it boring, and pointless. Given that the main character is also who wrote the book, perhaps even self centered. Yet to me, that’s what makes the story compelling. Cheryl decides, after a failed marriage, abuse, and the loss of her mother, to go hike almost the entirety of the Pacific Crest Trail, with no prep, no experience, and no companions. A stupid thing to do really.
Yet the author never shies away from this fact. She talks about her crap sandals, her bleeding toes, her total cluelessness. It’s a brutal tromp, and the movie goes above and beyond to represent this visually. You feel how alone Cheryl is, and what that does to us, for a long period of time. How we think, how we feel. The pain, the loss, all the memories that we are unable to suppress. Actors so often get type cast, and I feel Reese Witherspoon has been absolutely subjected to this. Yet here she is able to shine in a role very different from her normal fare, and the almost entirely solo affair works in a way similar to the movie 127 Hours.
Under the Tuscan Sun
I grew up with this movie, and it continues to hold a place in my heart. The story is simple on the surface, woman flees life in the US and unhappy marriage, finds fancy place in Italy, falls in love. Yet the story is so much more than that. The gorgeous, romantic man is a player, her friend winds up pregnant on her doorstep with no where to go, an aging woman befriends the MC yet is absurd, fun, drunk, and sexy. In the end, the main character doesn’t get the man, she doesn’t have it all figured out.
A handsome man shows up at the end, hinting he might be the one, but that isn’t the point of the movie. The point is a little like the movie The Waitress, it’s about finding your own slice of hope and happiness, of finding friends who will be there, and standing on your own.
Eat, Pray, Love
As with Wild, I read the book of this before the movie came out. Actually read it whilst being in India, though of course what the character was experiencing in India was very different from what I was doing in India, for the most part. Yes, I did spend some time meditating in an ashram, but not like the one she did, which was very western, very touristy, very popular.
But I feel this book, and thus the movie, gets a bad rap. Sure I know there were legions of women in book clubs who wanted to go and take life changing tour packages to these countries, all to have some magical enlightenment. But the book and the movie weren’t some tourist trap for me. For me the story is about exactly what it says it is: one woman, learning to overcome these ideas that have been forced upon us since we were small. (And this movie has Javier Bardem, I mean, come on)
Really though, we all can take a lesson from the people and cultures she visited. To eat wholly, not gluttonously but because it pleases, because it fills, it creates. To pray, to open ourselves up to the divine, no matter how that translates for us. To create an empty, quiet space. And to love. Love not just romantically, but love in every sense.
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features a huge cast of British greats, who,if you watch BBC or Brit movies at all, you will recognize every single one. The movie tells the different stories of several British retirees, some who live in India full time, others who supposedly are there just for a stint. This movie is hopeful,funny, poignant, and sad. I never felt it cheated its characters, and they were all fun, engaging, and unique. The quest to keep this little hotel running is endearing, and this is one of my favorite movies, period.
Tracks is fairly similar to Wild. Blond young woman leaves everything behind in order to go across unfamiliar, treacherous and rough land, on a whim. Yet while Wild is a character piece, and a story about moving on and facing inner demons, Tracks is very much a journey piece. Upon deciding to cross the Australian outback and reach the western ocean with only camels and her dog,the main character ends up having to put up with a photographer from National Geographic showing up every couple of weeks,as per her agreement for them to fund it.
The photographer is awkward and uncomfortable, there’s no romance, and there’s not some huge lesson to be learned. All it is, is the story of this girl going through this environment that everyone thinks she is crazy for, and succeeding. And that’s all it needs to be.