Journeys: Inner Routes & Destinations / July, 2015

July is a month of films about journeys as catalysts for an internal transformation and discovery of one’s socio-cultural identity. Featuring crossroads, winding, misunderstood, changing, predetermined or circular routes, moving from the fog to the sun and back.

MORVERN CALLAR, directed by the Scottish Lynne Ramsay (who was to direct WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN in the subsequent years), opens with Morvern finding her writer boyfriend dead on Christmas Eve. He committed suicide because he thought it was the right time, asking her to send his manuscript to various publishers. Morvern works at a supermarket in an unnamed town in Scotland. Through a comically absurd turn, she decides to use, financially as well as emotionally, her boyfriend’s selfish act to escape her current condition and to feel something else, somewhere else. A hyper-sensorial dreamy film, with a rhythm dictated by the soundtrack we hear through the walkman headphones that accompany Morvern on her journey of escape.

Based on Marjane Satrapi’ s graphic novel of the same name and joint winner of the Cannes Jury’s prize in 2007, Persepolis has many journeys woven into its plot. There is a literal one, Marjane’s journey from Iran to Austria, where her parents send her to study after the Iranian revolution. There is also the story of her coming of age, with all the stops and departures and wrong turns that growing up implies. And finally, there is the journey of Iran, a country that transitions from the Shah’s reign to Khomeini’s Islamic regime, with a revolution and a war on the map. As light-hearted as it is introspective, Persepolis is a moving film that leaves many emotions in its wake, the same bittersweetness that is the mark of all real voyages.

BARRY LYNDON, a Stanley Kubrick classic, is obviously not just any costume drama. Redmond Barry’s story, told with irony and double-entendres, suggests the descending journey of Western European society. Rooting his protagonist in the 18th Century and uprooting him from his mother Ireland, Kubrick traces the path on which Barry’s ambitions clash with the mores of high society. On the same road, Barry falls prey to his instincts and constantly remains one step behind his destiny, unable to read the signs that he’s heading towards a destination that is entirely different to how he had imagined.

A true road-movie, BADLANDS, the film that propelled Terrence Malick amongst the league of masters, follows the mad adventure of a bored teenager (Sissy Spacek), who embarks with her boyfriend (a Charlie Sheen resembling James Dean) on a journey that allows both murders of the crudest nature. The ‘trip’ highlights the contrast between the power that the protagonists seek and their immaturity, tracing the changing impressions of the female lead through her voice-over, which denotes an immaturity associated with the classic American pop teen.

If Malick subtly criticises pop culture that’s based on dreams and journeys, Jean-Luc Godard builds PIERROT LE FOU upon those criticisms (although admittedly he made it before Malick), playing with the tropes of Hollywood movies. Perhaps Godard’s most fun and entertaining films, PIERRLOT LE FOU follows Jean-Paul Belmondo, who, bored with his bourgeois life, runs away with the nanny (Anna Karina), who, in turn has killed someone. A reflexive film about the meaning of journeys in movies.