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CITY OF JOY

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Shabana Azmi, Pauline Collins, Art Malik, Om Puri
Director: Roland Joffe
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital, Surround
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Release Date: April 6, 2004

Film ***

In recent weeks I have viewed and/or reviewed three separate movies that deal with the oppression and suffering third world countries face on a daily basis.   City Of Joy is one of these movies.  There are many reasons why I really enjoyed this movie…the acting was great, the film itself was well written and directed.  I think the biggest thing about a film like this however, is how much it can change your ideals and views.

City Of Joy stars Patrick Swayze as Max Lowe, a doctor who’s lost his purpose and reason.  He’s running from just about everything in his life, and does not see an end to the personal hell he’s wrapped himself up in.

He is soul searching, and his latest journey takes him to the Ghettos of Calcutta.  Almost immediately after he arrives in the city, Max is duped by a beautiful woman, beaten half to death, and robbed of all his possessions. 

Hasari is an Indian man who lost his farm to creditors, and has come to Calcutta in order to find work and raise money for his daughter’s dowry.   He tries to help Max when the son of the city’s Godfather attacks him.   This helps form a bond between the two men that will help them both in their time of need.

Swayze has always been an actor favorite of mine.   He’s really good in films that force him to walk that fine line between being on the good guys’ team and taking the bad boy route.   I absolutely adored him in Red Dawn, however without hesitation, I believe his best onscreen work was Dirty Dancing.  Yes, a silly bit of fluff meant to make the girls swoon and the guys ogle all the pretty girls, but nonetheless, he did a wonderful job as (sigh) Johnny! 

Keeping all of that in mind, in this film, Swayze does some of the best emotional acting I have ever seen him do.  You get to watch his character go through pain, joy, fear, excitement, and loss.  Then when you think it’s all over you realize that for him, it’s just begun. 

Swayze wasn’t the only one flashing his acting abilities…credit must also be given to Pauline Collins, who plays a British nurse trying to take care of everyone’s bumps and scrapes with a minimum of medical supplies.  I have not had the pleasure of viewing any of Pauline’s other work, however, I have no doubt that anything she has done will be exceptional. 

Collins’ character is spunky and spirited with a killer sense of humor.  She decides that Doctor Max needs an attitude adjustment, as well as a purpose, and she manages to help him find both.   

This film is a wonderful lesson in dedication, trust and loyalty.  It brings into focus the things we take for granted daily, as well as things we could all do to ease someone else’s suffering, whether it be a friendly pat on the back or a helping hand when they have fallen down. 

On a side note, here is a little bit of trivia about this movie:  it seems that during filming in the early 1990s several riots broke out in Calcutta over the way directors had chosen to depict the city and its people.  Filming was halted and actors removed so that the crew could smooth things over. 

City Of Joy may not put a smile on your face, but the message will bring joy to your heart.  Grab this DVD and let it enlighten you!

Video **

This DVD was presented in a 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and it was a decent transfer.  The print was a bit grainy; in places, the dirt could be seen throughout the disc. 

However, on the positive side of viewing, the colors were vivid and crisp.  Also, the natural lighting used throughout gave this film a more realistic feel to it.  

Audio ***

This movie’s soundtrack was pretty nice, and the audio quality was better than most I’ve heard recently.  The mix for this DVD’s audio was balanced evenly between dialogue and music bed.  There were no audio dropouts or fluctuations in levels during any part of this disc. 

Features *

There wasn’t much joy in the city, and I think it was because of the lack of extra features.  Movie trailers for Death Wish, Gandhi  and Lawrence Of Arabia are included.

Summary:

City of Joy was lacking a lot of joy in its features department, but makes up for it with good video, great audio, and a nice movie over all.   Pick it up, spin it around, and share the joy and love.