Saturday, May 5, 2012

The end of the secular life

Last night my wife and I went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It is very enjoyable and amusing, capturing some of the appeal, frustrations, excitement, and confusion of India to Westerners.

Intermixed with a cornucopia of the senses and the humour of the East-West tension the movie touches on many issues associated with growing old and facing death: bitterness, declining health and energy, negativity, disappointment, facing the past, waning relationships, loneliness, ...

The movie also reminded us somewhat of My House in Umbria. Besides also starring Maggie Smith, a group of strangers are brought together in unusual circumstances in a foreign environment, they bond, and find some identity and purpose.

Perhaps the movie suffers from also touching on too many other issues as well: racism, retirement on limited incomes, homosexuality, call centres in India, ....

I felt several striking dissonances. First, in typical Hollywood fashion the movie affirms the primacy of romantic love and finding that "special one person" who we "deserve". Second, none of the Western couples had positive enduring marriages to the end. Finally, I felt the emptiness of the secular life. What is it all for?

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