City of Joy – Day Thirty Four – #40movies40days
This is a film the audience liked far more than critics– It’ got 57% (rotten) on the tomato meter from critics and a 70% (fresh) from audience members at Rotten Tomatoes. I am with the audience on this one.
City of Joy stars Patrick Swayze as Max Lowe, a disillusioned doctor who passes through Calcutta and get stuck when he is robbed and beaten. He can’t leave because he has no documents and the hotel proprietor confiscates his airline ticket. New documents and a money transfer will take weeks. In the meantime, he gets roped into helping at a local heath clinic and decides to stay.
In a parellel story, Hasari Pal (Om Puri) moves to Calcutta with his wife (Shabana Azmi) and three children when their farm is taken away by moneylenders. The Pals are cheated out of their rent money, Hasari can’t find a job and they all run out of cash. They find their way to the City of Joy, a ramshackle area filled with lepers and the poorest of the poor.
Harsari witnesses Max’s beating and takes him home to the City of Joy. He is tended to by a feisty Irish woman (Pauline Collins), who runs the local clinic. She convinces/shames Max into helping the residents. Max gradually gets involved in helping to build a school and better clinic and in fighting the local “godfather” whose foot is firmly planted on the necks of the area’s poor.
I enjoyed the film, despite it’s cliches. The ability to find joy in even the most dire situations and circumstance is at the heart of the story. It reminded me once again of the difference between happiness and joy. Too often I focus on chasing ever elusive happiness (what will give me personal satisfaction or pleasure) and not enough on living in joy (being grateful for the miracle of every day life– even when it isn’t easy or pretty).
Here is a great definition of the difference between the two:
Joy comes from the inner-self of a person, and is connecting with the source of life within you… Happiness is a result of something that is outside of you, and gained by observing or doing that particular thing (which pleases you)… Happiness may be momentary, as it is a result of short-term contentment; but joy, being related to the inner self, is long lasting. Happiness simply pleases a person, while joy brings warmth (and contentment) to that person’s heart (and soul).
Happiness comes from outside, while joy from within, and with this attitude of joy, the person is in a state of grace.
Happiness is an emotion and temporary (it lasts as long as things are going my way or I am getting what I want). Joy is an attitude of the heart (and has nothing to do with what is happening on the outside). That transcendent sense of joy is what I want more of in my life. Joy fills us up even when the world around us seems empty.