I am not a film buff, and I only watch films occasionally like when I am on a long flight. Sounds strange?
I can’t watch 3 hours long Bollywood movie where the plot is repetitive or too garish for my sensibilities. I don’t watch Hollywood flicks too as I think they are too spiced up! I can’t see cities being destroyed and all that nonsense. Also, I am particularly discouraged by the way women are portrayed or misrepresented in movies.
People often tell me that I am missing out on life. I don’t know how true is that. But lately, I have been hooked on watching international cinema. I feel there much to be learned and gained by watching cinema from other countries. It’s a beautiful way to discover and enjoy a whole new culture and to get familiar with new languages.
If you are tired of watching a run of the mill movies and want to get out of comfort zone, try watching movies from the Middle East, Japan, France and other European countries.
I like the way these movies portray the struggles of women in a multi-faceted way. Some of them showcase in a very candid manner what it takes to be a woman and how they see and define themselves. These women celebrate women because of their inherent strength, intelligence, and sensitivity rather than just looks. These movies have a realistic and subtle appeal to them. The primary concerns are interpersonal relationships, career struggle, and family obligations.
These cultures may also be producing similar mundane, usual humdrum movies typecasting women in particular roles. Very much like our films, their women characters are constructed for the gaze and pleasure of men.
Here’s my delightful mixed bag list of movies for women who are at the crossroads must watch:
- Hukumet Kadin 2
Set in Midyat, a small town in Mardin province of Turkey, this is an extraordinary and quirky political comedy. The film is an about an illiterate housewife Xate who campaigns on behalf of her husband and wins the local election. She works hard to ensure that her political contender, Faruk who is a liar and a crook get defeated and a school for children is built.
- Julie and Julia
Julie and Julia is an American comedy about young Julie who resides in Queens and is stuck in a dead end and uninspiring job. She hates the drudgery of her job and decides to write a culinary blog where she attempts to cook all recipes from Julia Child’s popular cookbook. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is phenomenal. The film contrasts the challenges both the women faced in their culinary journey.
3. Mia Madre
Mia Madre (My Mother), an Italian drama is poignant and thought-provoking where a film director, played by Margherita Buy is in the midst of an existential crisis. She tries to juggle between her career as a filmmaker and day to day life such as the breakup with her boyfriend, worries about her teenage daughters and her mother’s illness. She finds it difficult to separate her professional life from her private life. It’s a brilliant paradox with a touch of humor.
4. Le Petit Locataire (A Bun in the Oven)
The bun in the oven is a slang meaning being pregnant. It’s a French drama where a 49-year-old protagonist is burdened by the household duties as a wife, mother, and daughter. When she conceives unexpectedly, she faces a myriad of challenges—personal, relational and social. She faces an emotional upheaval and film beautifully and comically describes the impact of her pregnancy on her present life circumstances and relationships. It also showcases her social and professional context in which the pregnancy occurs.
5. Wedding Doll
The Israeli film “Wedding Doll,” beautifully depicts a moving tale of mother and daughter and is spectacularly set in a desert. Hagit, a girl, with mild mental disabilities works in a small toilet roll factory and love with the son of the owner. She has an unusual talent of making beautiful paper dolls. She desires to work as a seamstress. Her mother is a single woman with a demanding job and has to raise a special needs child all alone. It’s an emotional journey of both mother and daughter and how they stay hopeful and apprehensive about their future.