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POSITIVE, WISE & LOVING LIFE

Ten meaningful and touching films to watch during the holidays

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‘Love actually’ is still great, but there are so many other good movies with the Christmas spirit. They all show how powerful it is to connect to others and let love rule.

‘The painted veil’ (2007)

Helping someone can give life meaning. That’s what the young doctor Walter (Edward Norton) and his wife Kitty (Naomi Watts) discover in this movie inspired by W. Somerset Maugham’s classical novel. The story is situated in the 1920’s. When Kitty falls in love with someone else, Walter takes revenge by accepting a job in a little village in China where people suffer from a deadly epidemic. In this rough environment they discover the goal they share: helping the locals.

‘Waking life’ (2001)

This movie is different from the others. It asks for a specific state of mind. If you feel like it, this arty animation is worth your while. It’s about a boy walking around in a dream world, having conversations about the meaning of life with the people he meets. Some say this movie changed their lives. 

‘Tree of life’ (2011)

Our grown-up personality is shaped by the way we were raised and our experiences in life. In this movie, this fact is explored by zooming into Jack, a grown man who’s struggling with his elder brother’s life and thinking of their youth. It’s not an easy going feelgood movie, but a story full of spiritual symbolism that invites you to reflect. It makes you think of universal themes such as faith, growing up, and love as a means for reconciliation and forgiveness.

‘Seven pounds’ (2008)

In an attempt to reconcile with his past, Tim Thomas (Will Smith) decides to give something to seven strangers, something that will change their lives for good. The movie is a bit over the top, and not too subtle, but it also shows the beauty of genuine compassion, mercy and altruism. Sometimes, you receive by passing things on. 

‘Still Alice’ (2014)

There’s no other month in which being together with friends and family is the focus point like it is in December. That’s why this month can be painful and difficult too, especially when you’re dealing with illness or loss. This Oscar winning movie shows you in an overwhelming manner what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s – both for the person suffering it, and the people around them. It’s confrontational, but it shows the power of family: taking care of eachother.  

‘About time’ (2013)

Don’t we all fantasize about time travel every once in a while? Just rewinding and erasing that one stupid remark you made. Or bigger stuff: not getting angry with your lover, taking that trip to the end of the world anyway, or just telling that person you love them one more time. In this movie, 21-year-old Tim discovers he can go back in time. He decides to put it to use to find the love of his life. This charming comedy is very funny, with great actors, and also has a message for us: everything happens for a reason, so it’s for the best that we can’t change our own destiny.

‘Room’ (2015)

A man kidnaps a young woman and locks her up in his garden shed. After a while, she gets pregnant of son Jack. He, too, grows up in captivity. The subject of this movie is so horrible, that it might seem highly unlikely that there are any silver linings. There are, though: this film is, strangely, very optimistic, because the story is told by a child. It’s impossible not to be touched by this story about the unconditional love between a mother and a child.

‘The fundamentals of caring’ (2016)

A traumatised caretaker and a terminally ill boy take a roadtrip together. It sounds like a bad joke, but it’s the heartwarming story of Ben and Trevor. Of course, the journey doesn’t go as planned – just like any journey through life. But it’s the obstacles that teach them something valuable: you can’t take care of anyone, until you can take care of yourself.

‘The blind side’ (2009)

This film about love and empathy is inspired by a true story, which makes it even more powerful. It’s about the special connection between Michael Oher, a homeless teenager with no future perspective, and Leigh Anne Tuohy, a rich mom from the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee. Michael doesn’t stand a chance in life and chances are he’ll end up the same way as his addicted mom. That’s until Leigh Anne decides to take care of him – despite friends’ and family’s judgment.

‘Marley & me’ (2008)

Animal lovers know how strong and pure the emotional connection between humans and animals can be. Even people who don’t love animals, will acknowledge this after seeing this movie. It’s about the Grogan family and their connection to Labrador Marley, who comes into the family as a puppy. Marley isn’t just a pet, he’s a loyal friend who’s there for the family in good and bad times. Even though the movie doesn’t have a happy end, it gives you a warm feeling – and it leaves you with a serious desire for a puppy.  

Text: Joanne Wienen - Photo: Alex Holyoake