Five Europeans in Asia. Josh and Adam, friends from England, are on holiday. Josh runs out of money and complains as Adam plays with the purse strings. Svenja, also in Thailand, has missed a flight and calls a travel agent whose English and ability to assist are limited. A phone friendship develops that might lead to more. In India, Liam is an Irish lad looking for experiences as he smokes dope and thinks about a baby he's fathered during a one-night stand. Marion is taking dance and meditation at an ashram as she seeks to grow; she's guessed that her relationship with her boyfriend back in Germany is kaput. Does anyone make a self-discovery? Written by
This is one of the best films that I have ever seen. A lot of films that I have watched fall under that category, admittedly. Still it is really worth watching and the music is fantastic as well.
It is a film that tells different stories about western bag pack tourists in Asia. The lives of each of the tourists are mostly not connected with one another, but sometimes intertwine. This film tells the story of two British bag pack tourists who come to Asia, together, to enjoy the night life. One of them is domineering, organized, thrifty, but not always good at communicating with people. His desire to always be better at everything in everything than other people intimidates others and does not make him a pleasant person to be with. His friend is the total opposite. He is very extroverted, more pleasant, passive, but therefore disorganized and wasteful. In Asia he even realizes that he has no money, which makes him financially dependent on his bossy friend who walks all over him because of it. The more domineering friend's insecurity becomes more clear as he becomes jealous as his more passive friend manages to make out with a girl, while he does not even dare to talk to the other girls around him and therefore remains lonely. So he picks on the passive friend so much that that friend has to leave the country and go back home.
The story of the other tourist is totally different. In order to get away from a failing love relationship at home, a German lady enters a type of esoteric religious commune in India. If I am not mistaken it is the remnants of one of those Bagwan communes which are known for making their members only wear purple clothing. As few of the people in the group are single she, however, feels left out because she had come to the commune a lone. The only other single German with whom she gets a long with is too old for her. Because that commune, in another documentary, was associated with sexual abuse and authoritarian leadership, I found it bold of the Sonia Heiss to portray it so positively and to make it look so harmless.
The other tourist's story which is told in the film is a lady. She seems to have an Austrian accent. She could be from Germany as well. She befriends the a man who works at the travel agency, whom she contacts to book her trip, over the phone. They have never seen each other, but because he expresses his interest for her they organize to meet by a temple. She shoes up by the temple, they do not find each other. The reason for why this is so is open to the viewer. Personally, I think that because travel agent keeps on changing his age, he was the old man who hang around by the temple as she had appeared. She simply did not want to accept that such an old man wanted to go out with her and the old man was too shy to speak to her because she was so young that she could be her daughter. So that female tourist travels out of Asia to the USA without ever meeting the man whom she only knows through her long, strange telephone conversations with him.
Another tourist is a Scottish tourist, who is not the way they are usually portrayed. He does not have a dashing, exotic accent and gentlemanly manners or a quilt. He has a very humble appearance and acts like someone who even has a low self esteem. His accent makes him sound like English is his third language. His humor is not always appropriate and also annoying to say the least, but the fact that he accepts himself despite all of his odd personal qualities, and is well meaning, makes him likable to the people around him. His self-confidence reminds those around him to accept themselves as they are as they cannot be anyone, but themselves. This Scott made a strange woman pregnant and escaped to India, or some other Asian country, to have a lot of fun before he devotes himself to the parental duties that he is not looking forward to taking. However as he meets the German single girl who had just left that Indian commune which I had talked about, as a coca cola which he had ordered ends up being served onto her table by mistake, they fall in love as he tells her that the coke is his. I think that at this point the Scott realizes that it makes no sense to start a family which he does not want to devote himself to, as his lack of commitment would not making him very helpful as a parent anyway. So, it seems he simply devotes herself to the German girl.
The choice to make this a mosaic movie, telling 5 different stories, that each highlights a different aspect of the backpacking experience, I find no objection at all. Each of the stories (some more than others though) are very well done and explore the reasons people backpack and the challenges (internal and external) they encounter in an original and humorous way. The humor is quite subtle though and knowing a bit of German would be beneficial in appreciating that subtleness. The fact that these separate stories eventually not come together (in an Innaritu kind of way) or 'go somewhere' I find in no way problematic as another reviewer seems to argue. Each story has meaning in itself and as any backpacker would happily point out to you: "it's a journey, not a destination".
What strikes me in the film is the way the characters all try to find some sort of meaning in lives which all lack direction, in a time in which they are not so young anymore.
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