What happens when everything you’ve ever known seems to be a lie? When everything you’ve worked so hard for in your life seems to come crashing down on you, who do you turn to? You need to find yourself, to re-evaluate your priorities. What better place to do that than in The City Of Joy.
The movie The City Of Joy is about a wealthy American doctor named Max Lowe. After he lost a patient on the operating table, Max spontaneously decides to leave America and travel to India in the hope of “finding himself.” Not long after he arrives in Calcutta, Max is attacked by a group of thugs and left without money or a passport.
An Indian man named Hasari comes to Max’s rescue. Hasari had left his farming community to come to the city, only to be overwhelmed by its dirt, crime, and overcrowding. Despite their poverty, Hasari and his family take Max in and bring him to a medical clinic in the City of Joy, one of the poorest slums in the city.
Max is brought to the clinic run by Joan Bethel, an Irish-American nun. When Joan discovers that Max is a doctor, she pleads with him to join her in running the clinic. Max declines, claiming he is a “non-practicing” surgeon. After an unplanned baby delivery for a woman whose baby is jeopardized, Max begins to see things in a new light. He signs on to help at the clinic, and his attitude about India’s citizens and its way of life changes drastically.
The relationships in this movie are very moving. Hasari runs his rickshaw through a monsoon to provide for his daughter’s dowry, while Max defies the local godfather by staying in India to be with his friends and patients. Joan gives freely of herself to the patients in her clinic, day in and day out. By the end of the movie, the relationships established in this movie are unselfish, giving and stable.
I really enjoyed discovering all the meaningful relationships being developed throughout the movie. Max and Hasari went through shaky times in order to develop their complete confidence in each other. Joan went from thinking of Max as a selfish boar, to appreciating him and seeing him as a comrade. Through it all, the relationships made seem strong enough that the persons involved would risk life and limb to keep their relationships intact. I think this is where the beauty of the film lies; in it’s intricate relationships between the characters.
Throughout the course of the film, the audience is exposed to the poor living conditions in India, the filth, the crime, and the poverty. At first glance, it would seem that India would not be a very suitable place to live, the smiles of the young children playing abou in the street seem to say different. This movie shows both sides of India, the good and the bad. Although the living conditions are poor, the spirits of the Indian people are high.
It’s amazing to see that even in a city so poor, there is still joy to be found. The people of India do not have all the modern conveniences we have in our western society, and yet, they are happier than we are. It really makes us have to stop and appreciate all the things we have, and at the same time, we need to realize that our happiness is not measured by our material possessions. I think there is room for everyone to visit The City Of Joy.