It is natural to feel that something is not right and that you have to change something. Sometimes you may not even know what is wrong. However, there is always a way to find inspiration in art. Here is our selection of 7 films that will inspire you to start a new life.
Enlightenment Guaranteed by Doris Dörrie, 1999
It is a funny and heartwarming comedy film about two middle-aged German brothers who rushed to the East to a Zen monastery for a meditation program. The idea to visit the monastery was originally favored by only one of the brothers. After all, they are so different. One is driven by feng shui and various meditative practices. He walks with a compass, defines comfort zones, and constantly reads Zen-Buddhist wisdom. The other brother is the exact opposite of him—a depressive divorcee who does not believe in any kind of spiritual practices and spends time recording drunken video confessions for his ex-wife, begging her to take him back.
Throughout the series of comic, yet so relatable events in the life of each of them, the protagonists search for the enlightenment that was supposed to be guaranteed. The comic and dramatic elements of the film lead the brothers to a good place. However, they did not reach it in the way they planned to. Nonetheless, both of them take different lessons from the monastery experience, which ultimately leads them to a good place. The film focuses on rethinking and renewing life, which will give a boost of energy and inspiration so that you can finally accomplish everything you wanted.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot by Gus Van Sant, 2018
This is a biopic on how challenges and trauma, both physical and psychological, can be a catalyst for internal change. John Callahan is a graphic artist, cartoonist, and musician. He had a difficult and strange life. His parents abandoned him in infancy, and his adopted family did not become dear to him. At the age of 12, John began to drink alcohol, and at the age of 21, he was involved in a terrible car accident. He was paralyzed below the chest and hit drinking even harder. And then something happened that could be called a miracle—suddenly, Callaghan joined the Alcoholics Anonymous community to find support there and put his life together. In this painful process, he was saved by one thing, which was his dark sense of humor that eventually made John a famous cartoonist.
Although Gus Van Sant allows the picture to grow excessively melodramatic and starts to resemble one of the many sentimental but motivating dramas on Netflix, the director almost entirely redeems the film and adds the necessary dose of sarcasm to the story. The main message of the film is not that there is a single model of positive thinking to change one’s life but the idea that everyone has to work on their own path to find peace.
Brigsby Bear by Dave McCary, 2017
Every morning, James looks through the window and looks as his Dad goes to the car with a gas mask on his head. Every evening, he turns off the mysterious oxygen machine before going to bed. In between, he has lessons and ritual meals with parents as duties and goes to the glass bridge and looks outside through the window as entertainment. He also has Brigsby Bear. Every week, his father brings a cassette with a new episode of the show called Brigsby Bear, and James runs a video blog sharing his impressions, thoughts, and theories with other fans.
One day, it all ends: the sound of police sirens breaks the silence of the night, his parents’ faces are slammed to the floor, and James gets wrapped in a blanket and taken into the world. There, he learns at least three important things: first, the air is not toxic; second, 25 years ago, he was kidnapped from the hospital by the people who pretended to be his parents; third, no one knows about the Brigsby Bear show.
In fact, the protagonist encounters the real world at the age of 25, and he has to enter a completely strange environment. The film shows that it is possible to be childish, dream, and learn more about the world at any age.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty by Ben Stiller, 2013
Walter Mitty is a modest hard worker in the photo department of Life magazine. He is comfortable with his life, going through photography masterpieces captured by the most perilous and brave photo reporters, such as photographs of the eruption of a volcano in Iceland from the wing of a plane, or a snow leopard tracked down somewhere in the Himalayas. However, such adventures are not about Walter. He lives a measured life of a caring son and brother, looking after his mother and sister. His life would be miserable without his vivid, heroic, and noble fantasies, which appear to him as a refuge from the monotony of his life.
One day, the life portrayed in his magazine and the contrast with his reality makes him so depressed that he feels the urge to change his own narrative. From this point on, he ventures to open a new page in his biography, discovers new facets of his personality, and experiences the adventures from his dreams.
This film is a visual representation of how a person feels when he or she decides to change his or her life. Every little improvement a person tries to make can feel like climbing the highest mountain, and self-discovery is itself an adventure.
Pay It Forward by Mimi Leder, 2000
The film consists of several intertwined storylines, all linked by the 11-year-old Trevor. The boy gets an assignment from his social science teacher to think about how he could change the world for the better and put this idea into action. The boy comes up with the idea that can improve a lot of lives. The point is to help three people selflessly and ask each of them to do the same to three different people. The core of Trevor’s idea is the altruistic desire to help others, make people kinder, and pay more attention to the troubles of others.
The simple and innocent invention of the boy demonstrates how easy it is to make the world a better place. Minimal kindness to strangers is nearly unnoticeable but a serious step towards changing yourself and shaking off the cynicism that sometimes shades your picture of the world.
Beginners by Mike Mills 2010
Oliver, a sensitive and vulnerable young man, learns of unexpected news from his father Hal when his mother dies. It turns out that after a happy 44-years-long marriage and retiring as the head of a museum, Hal finally decides to come out of the closet and admit that he was born homosexual. Then, he adds: “I don’t want to just be theoretically gay. I want to do something about it,” and starts his life anew. Dying from cancer, Hal decides to open a new page in his life, as if he were 17 again: a new wardrobe, new friends, parties, hobbies, and even a new partner.
Remarkably, the film is focused on Hal’s son Oliver, who faces existential angst in his twenties. The story is narrated from his perspective with the use of diegetic narration and jump cuts. Looking at his father, the man recollects his childhood and milestones in life trying to figure where to find the energy to live. Eventually, the film suggests that we all are but beginners in a thing as complicated as life, and it never hurts to learn how to enjoy it.
Wild by Jean-Marc Vallée, 2014
It is common for anyone to find oneself in a situation that makes one realize that something needs to be changed internally, but do not have enough courage to do it. The path that Cheryl Strayed chooses, to rethink her life, is a difficult but effective way to sober up about your capabilities, place in the world, and your self-worth. After a painful divorce, Cheryl realizes that she has to get her life together. Everything she has lived through all these years makes no sense to her, and she decides to immerse herself in new experiences and understand what she really needs.
The main character decides to go along the Pacific Crest Trail in order to be on her own and sort out her own life. She needs to travel 1800 kilometers and find the person she used to be at the end of the way. On her way along the route, she meets different people: some selflessly help her, some need her help, and others just terrify her. Cheryl’s three-month journey reflects an entire life: you cannot know for sure who you will meet on your way, but they all contribute to your life and impact your personality.