City of Joy (1992) Poster


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Not like the book but a good story
abhi-911 April 2006
The movie is not bad. It is based on the book by the same name by Dominique Lapierre, and if my understanding is right has the author's blessings. The characters even have similar if not same names but it is not the same story. However it is true to the spirit in which the book was written.

Another interesting comparison with the book is that just like the movie, the book is as controversial, especially in India and among middle class Indians and Indians abroad. Indians do not like to speak about their slums to foreigners and do not like foreigners to speak about them by themselves. Rich and middle-class Indians who make about one-fourth of the country are the most influential people in the country and make the interlocutors with the Western world. I know because I am one of them. If our country is our home, this is a skeleton in our closet. And because there is a skeleton in our closet, we try not to step into it and do not let other and hate those who do step in when we are not looking. The controversy is an indication that lot stuff in the movie is actually worth seeing.

Also it is not unusual for a poor man in India to choose to die with dignity than live in shame, Indian girls do flirt even if it is 'untraditional' and there are people who try to live by exploiting the poor, people who most others will call cruel.

The movie could have done a better job capturing the fact that western ideas can affect the way some people in India behave just as Indian ideas make some westerners reformulate their ideas and concepts about life. We can see it here, but this is better captured in the book

So those who do not like the movie try to read the book and those who liked the movie will definitely enjoy the book. As for me, stories of the resilience of Indian slum dwellers only make me more proud to be an Indian.
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My favorite Patrick Swayze film
editorbob13 May 2003
I think City of Joy is one of those films you either do or don't connect with. It's a study of growth, of friendship, of acceptance. It's a coming-of-age film. It's a study of how similar humans everywhere are in spite of vast cultural differences. It's a well-shot location piece. It's a character study. It's an action film, in its own way. Patrick Swayze and Om Puri put their hearts into their roles. The supporting cast is interesting and effective. The script has drama and emotional depth.

Although the plot certainly can't claim absolute originality, director Joffé's nuanced look at the cultural milieu and the care with which he portrays the characters' relationships and internal struggles make this a worthwhile, enjoyable film.

"Roadhouse" and "Dirty Dancing" were both lots of fun, but for me this is Patrick Swayze's best performance, and one of my favorite films of its kind.
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Touching movie which shakes you while you watch it
jayanta137914 March 2002
This movie is so deep that it touches your heart directly, specially the role played by om puri is inexpressible. Even the role played by patrick swayze was good as he plays an disillusioned doctor. All the casts played good role in the movie.

This movie touches the way of poor people living in calcutta slum, I know because I myself is a bengali and belong to calcutta. The way the poors were reflected in calcutta is actually the way they are treated.

The best quote of the movie was at the end when the movie ends and when om puri says "All that is not given is lost."
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only a father will understand
knh695 December 2007
A movie that will carry you to a new place & a new culture you will carry your tears, anger & hope along till the end watching it. The smell of the Indian dust, The pain of the people, The discrepancy between even the poor, A story about a man running to provide the food for his family beside saving money to marry his daughter. A lot of high temper feelings & emotions, you cant stop your eyes from falling. beside talking about the unjust of human beens in isolating a group of innocent people who their fault is that they are not born in complete bodies, the white man in the story who is a doctor failed in the medicine job in his country and ran to India where he found his real soul also show us how we sometimes see the world from one view while it can be seen from a better view, I don't understand why it wasn't dominated for an Oscar. excuse my English & thanks for reading my view.
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One of the best movies ever made
Pelrad23 March 1999
Bizarre reviews of this film that fail to explain why they are against its excellence don't stand up in the face of critics like Jim Whalley of Cinema Showcase who called it "the best picture of the year" and Susan Granger of WICC who commented that Patrick Swayze gave "the performance of a lifetime". This is the true story of a disillusioned American doctor who, like so many people, (the Beatles and Alanis Morisette, for example) travelled to India to find himself in a search for enlightenment. At first, he is unwilling to help the locals stand up against the oppressive 'godfather' of the area because he feels that all he'd be doing is trying to "drill a hole in water".

Having been to an English-speaking Third World country like India, myself, I found the reactions of the Swayze character extremely true to life. This seems to be the point that many viewers of the film don't seem to understand. I witnessed many Anglo-Americans in a Third World country surprising themselves by blowing up in anger at seeing the locals cowering away from injustice and later being transformed by the love and patience of the poor. I watched this movie while I was in Guyana and it was like an echo of many of the things I was going through and many of the events with which I had faced. Even the characters and their characteristics and reactions in the film matched many of the people I knew in that land!

"City of Joy" was an excellent and faithful adaption of Dominique Lapierre's richly written masterpiece. Om Puri's performance was deserving of an Academy Award. Patrick Swayze's character - his reactions to his surroundings - was extremely realistic. The conclusion of the film was beautifully touching. The strengths of American culture and Indian culture joined together - both races learned to accept one another's ways of life and borrowed virtues from one another's culture to breathe new life into the slums of Calcutta. "City of Joy" is one of the best movies ever made (10 out of 10).
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Pretty Good
pgovil31 March 2005
Although the movie might not have the best direction or not one of the best laid picture it still has a lot of good things. If you have visited India (where it has been primarily filmed) and especially Kolkotta city you would see the realistic nature of movie. It depicts the day to day life of a person below the poverty line. It also highlights the morality of foreigners and NGO's who are trying to help the needy. Very often they have to face resistance from local authorities who either want to exploit the masses or think the foreigners are trying to religiously exploit them. In nut shell I liked the movie.
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Excellent Story - Uplifting Movie!
reblit7 April 2005
City of Joy is the story of an American Doctor (Patrick Swayze) who runs away from his life and unwittingly lands himself in an entirely different place. Through various actions he ends up helping a woman (Pauline Collins) who tries to help the very poor of Calcutta on a day-to-day basis. City of Joy also contains a story of a farmer (Om Puri) who has lost his farm to the "money lenders" and brings his family to Calcutta to find work so that he can support his family. How all these lives interact is interesting. The poverty and oppression is devastating to see - but worth watching. The story touches your heart and holds your interest throughout the movie.

Patrick Swayze is wonderful in this movie! He is expansive and portrays all of his emotions - anger, frustration, love of friends and joy poignantly! Dirty Dancing, Ghost and City of Joy should have mad Patrick Swayze a serious leading man in the category of Harrison Ford. In later movies you can see his emotions but it is as if the are locked inside his handsome clenched jaws. Nevertheless, Patrick Swayze is a handsome accomplished actor and this film is well worth the watch!
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A picture of the darker world that exists... still
charles.k.munroe10 February 2008
The story and the characters in this movie are worthy and good, but in my opinion the true merit of this film is that it highlights how different situations and peoples of the world are in fact. To say that we're all the same and equal is true on one level -- a moral level. But, the real world operates on another level, and this film highlights it well.

There is tremendous poverty on our planet. The Western World has pretty much extinguished the degree of poverty shown in this film, and that is wonderful. But, many in the West seem to believe that everyone thinks and reacts as they do: with hope and confidence in the future. That is not true in many other parts of the world, and very often that is not due to a personal weakness, but to economic and cultural factors that have resonated for years – for centuries. How one born and raised in a pretty hopeless environment feels and thinks is certainly quite different than how the same occurs in a First World country. The extremes of poverty, the hopelessness, repeated futility of efforts, persecutions on personal and public levels... all have combined to create a unique pathos that outsiders find hard to understand.

Are some people in the world trapped and have they become lethargic as a result? Yes, but it is imperative to understand that they have seen many generations of others try to escape the ravages of poverty, only to run into box canyons. Eventually, repeated failures affect an entire population, and this movie reveals that fact to some degree. It should also be noted that a great deal of abject poverty in that part of the world is the result of too many people, too little food, and brutal cycles of weather that destroy all in the way.

What this film makes me ponder is just how such desperate peoples can best be helped by outsiders. Unfortunately, there is not a simple nor single answer. Situations and individuals and opportunities are in constant flux. Outsiders with big hearts may relieve some pain and suffering, but in the end most of the people will have to become determined enough to better their circumstances, and to then do whatever it takes. Others can help the struggling to pull on their bootstraps, but others cannot wear the boots for them or do their work for them.

This movie depicts a single set of unique events that resulted in people finally becoming determined to be masters of their own fate, come what may. I think that is the important message of this movie. I think outsiders can help some people see a new path to self actualization.
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Country of joy ? India
Sune-Denmark4 March 2006
I don't know, if you have to have been in India to really appreciate this movie. It has flaws, but I think it is noticeable to see that the only person from India writing here, actually points out the up-sides to it.

By professional movie critics, it was very well received. And in my opinion, justifiably so. The movie brings up, many interesting subjects. One can discuss how well it deals with them, but if you're open towards the movie, it might bring you a very good real-life experience.

If this movie, has got you interested in more genuine Indian films, then movies such as Monsoon Wedding, and Lagaan, can be recommended.
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Read the source
hprashantarora20 January 2010
To truly appreciate the characters of City of Joy, you have to read the book by the same name by Dominique Lapierre. Compared to its source material, the movie is a fairy tale. The hardships that the leading characters go through in the novel are gut wrenching and on more than one occasion almost made me cry. It was nice to see Patrick Swayze take his role head on and I think he did a marvelous job. Om Puri is one of the finest actors of Indian Cinema. If you like his work, I highly recommend "ArthSatya" (Half Truth) and "Paar" - the movies that established him as an intense actor. Also "Freedom At Midnight" by Dominique Lapierre is a great read, especially if you are interested in history. Again - it is not for anyone with a weak stomach.
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"I Came To Find Enlightenment"
stryker-529 December 1999
A child dies on an operating table in a Texas hospital. The surgeon, Max Lowe (Patrick Swayze), abandons his practice after the fatality and travels to Calcutta, leaving painful memories behind him. At the same time, in the Indian province of Bihar, Hasari and his family are quitting the land. Two years of drought have reduced them to despair, and now they are drifting to the city, hoping to make a new life there.

The story of the film is that of an impoverished community in Calcutta's backstreets, and how with Max Lowe's help the poor people learn to throw off the yoke of oppression. Max gives of his time and talent, and in return these simple folk teach him new perspectives, and enable him to come to terms with his own regrets.

This film is an example of American insensitivity at its worst. It is extremely patronising in its treatment of Indian society and crude in its handling social and moral issues. The film fails utterly to appreciate that a social system that has existed for thousands of years might not need 'straightening out' by a young man from a 200-year-old culture. All the standard American cliches are trotted out. People are urged to 'stand up and be counted', and to 'make choices in their lives'. Individualism and self-reliance are trumpeted brainlessly, as if they were eternal truths. This is the arrogance of youth. American exporters of films would do well to remember that there are ways of living that happen to be distinct from their own - and far wiser.

The plot is brain-numbingly simplistic. An evil Indian 'godfather' and his (even more evil) son are terrorising the City of Joy. Max preaches rebellion to the local people, exhorting them to reject the feudal system by which they have lived since time immemorial. He has been in India for three weeks, but he know best. The film blithely ignores three essential realities, because they happen to be inconvenient. Firstly, street dwellers such as these have to work too long and too hard, and are too worn down by malnutrition, to stage rebellions and construct new clinics on a foreigner's whim. Secondly, even if an age-old feudal system could be discarded overnight (and it can't), something has to fill the vacuum. The film doesn't come close to hinting what sort of social structure will supplant the godfather's regime. Thirdly, the film arrogantly assumes that the people would turn against their own, with whom they have ancient bonds of blood and custom, in order to side with an American stranger who knows nothing of their way of life, and who is free to pack up and leave whenever he wishes.

Indian people have to behave like Americans, lest they lose the sympathy of the American cinema audience. Poor families have to be too proud to beg for food, but this is nonsense in an Indian context. In reality, Hasari and his wife and children would beg without hesitation - and why shouldn't they? If a prostitute were to lure a foreigner into a robbery, would a local poor man tend the foreigner's wounds? And would the prostitute help him? The preparation of the new clinic is all meaningful bustle and smiling self-help, but these are the values of the American frontier, not the backstreets of Calcutta. Hasari's daughter chooses her husband western-style, via a romance, rather than the arranged marriage which would almost certainly happen in real life.

Everything comes about too easily. Hasari needs to double his income, so he does. Max earns the undying love of Calcutta's poor in a few weeks of grudging voluntary work. In the same timespan, the film gives us the full cycle of birth, death and marriage. People are slashed with razors and make complete (scar-free) recovery, without proper medical attention or modern pharmaceuticals. Max decides on the marriage, not the girl's family, and it's Max who takes the place of honour at the wedding ceremony. That's about as likely as water-skiing on the Ganges.

Ennio Morricone's score is extremely low-key, consisting of little more than a few sitar flourishes. It is almost as if the maestro is embarrassed to be associated with this shallow, tactless film. Max says he travelled to Calcutta to find enlightenment. He would stand a better chance if he didn't carry Texas along in his backpack.
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Moving and sensitive chronicle about survival in a poverty-stricken city
ma-cortes4 July 2012
Disilusioned American heart surgeon named Max Lowe (Patrick Swayze who lacks some the emotional range) flees to India after losing a patient . In the extremely poor city of Calcutta he is beaten by a street band (led by Art Malik) and being robbed his money and loses the passport but finds help from an ex-farmer named Hazari(Om Puri , excellent as poor but obstinate worker) who takes him to a nearby clinic in the City of Joy , one of Calcutta's poorest areas . Hazari and his family have re-located to Calcutta with hopes of starting a new life , save some money and go back to their village , as well as get Amrita married . There Joan (Pauline Collins who is magnificent for her part) runs a miserable clinic without medicines and recruits the reluctant medic who undergoes a life-changing transformation . Meanwhile Hazari gets a job as a Rickshaw driver through a local godfather, Ghatak and new problems emerge when the exploiter rises the rents .

This is an enjoyable account of the survival of the human spirit against difficulties . The movie is plenty of graphic , striking and memorable moments , dictating a strong emotional response from the spectator . However , the city's portrayal as a magical location where troubles miraculously disappear is unrealistic . Interesting and thought-provoking movie with evident excitement that can sometimes be undercut by inadequacies in the screenplay , being adapted from a book by Dominique Lapierre . This moving picture results to be a breathtaking spectacle , including strong emotions , brooding dialogue and including a heartbreaking final . Beset with antagonism from politicians and inhabitants of Calcutta, director Roland Joffe approached India's leading director Satyajit Ray to condone the production , Joffe tried four times to meet with Ray but he refused each time. Among the problems that beset the production were fire-bombings, mass demonstrations, media criticism, accusations of murder, a skyrocketing budget that eventually settled at the $27 million mark, and Warner Brothers' 11th hour pullout that nearly bankrupted the producers . Joffe had the good idea to use Academy Award-nominated writer Mark Medoff and the result was an emotional bullseye with a sensitive tale of unfortunate and poor peasant workers in poor city of Calcutta ; however , it was not a major box-office hit . Colorful cinematography in strong visual sense by Peter Bizou . As Always , the maestro Ennio Morricone composes a marvelous and stirring musical score .

The motion picture was well directed by the British Roland Joffe . Although Warners was terrified of doing a film about lepers. They said, "Who cares about lepers?" I said it's not a film about lepers, it's a film about life and about any outsider - it could be AIDS, because the way people respond to lepers isn't that different from the way people with AIDS are treated . Roland is a good filmmaker mainly of epic subjects . After a long career filming for television , he made his movie debut in a big way with ¨The killing fields¨ winner of three Oscar and dealing with madness and atrocities committed by humans , Joffe's usual theme. ¨The mission¨, one of his greatest hits , had Palme d'or at Cannes , a graphic monument to Portuguese oppression in South-America , but Joffe has not quite held his place at the top level . He subsequently directed ¨Fat Man and Little Boy¨ referring to two atomic bombs dropped by America on Japan . Joffe's meagre output for the cinema makes it all the more surprising that he has turned out three splendid films and several others near-disasters such as ¨The scarlet letter¨, ¨Captivity¨, and ¨You and me¨. ¨Rating ¨City of Joy¨ : Better than average , worthwhile watching . The picture will appeal to Patrick Swayze fans .
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Patrick Swayze shines in this film
SoftKitten8012 November 2004
Patrick Swayze,unusually for a Westerner, melts into Calcutta quite easily. Typically Westerners act like they are away from home when they act in Indian films. Patrick Swayze goes with the rhythm from the first beat in this wonderful movie. The end when the camera sweeps over Calcutta in the early morning light, is so beautiful a moment you almost weep. The acting and teamwork between Om Puri and Patrick are first rate. Patrick Swayze has a creativity that allows him to be at home in almost any setting. This is why he is one of my very favorite actors. Om Puri is known in both Hollywood and outside of it as the best actor in the whole world. Realistically, a rickshaw driver would not have Om's hearty build, but be much more shriveled looking. The prostitute getting slashed across her mouth is realistic, unfortunately. Well known Shabana Azmi shows her acting talent as usual.
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Uplifting and touching tale set among Calcutta's untouchables
roghache31 March 2006
It's been over a decade since I saw this movie, but despite a lot of criticism it seems to be receiving, I remember how much it touched me way back then.

The story revolves around a disillusioned young American doctor, Max Lowe (played by Patrick Swayze), who goes to India to find himself. He encounters a nun who is trying to set up a free clinic among Calcutta's untouchables, and becomes unable to resist helping her in her struggles. To be honest, I hardly remember Patrick Swayze's role from this movie. I had forgotten he was even in it, and normally associate him with Ghost or Dirty Dancing. I assume he was adequate in the part, as I don't remember otherwise. A reviewer complained he used a lot of profanity, and if so, that would definitely not have been to my liking. I certainly didn't get the impression at the time that they were trying to portray Swayze's character as another Mother Theresa. Frankly, I don't remember the nun either.

The Westerners didn't leave any lasting impression on me. For me, the film was all about the depiction of life among these poorest of the poor, the people to whom the late Mother Theresa devoted her life. Whether portrayed realistically or not, the movie at least elicits viewer awareness of their plight, their poverty and oppression. I recall the squalid living conditions worsened by the monsoons, but also the spirit of some of these so called untouchables.

However, the most memorable aspect of the movie, which has remained with me all these years, is the absolutely endearing Indian farmer, Hasari Pal (played by Om Puri), who has lost his farm and come to Calcutta with his wife and children in order to seek work. Despite his poverty, it is clear that he desires for his family the same basic happiness Westerners want for their own. The relationship he has with his wife is beautiful, as well as with his older daughter, who is having her own romance. (No, not the more realistic arranged marriage, as another commented.) Hasari is truly an unforgettable character that came to embody for me the spirit of India's less fortunate.

This is a movie that calls attention to some of the important truths in life, the overwhelming disparity between rich and poor, and especially the humanity common to us all. Perhaps it's not absolutely true to the culture (dowry etc.) of India, but I fear that some reviewers are, nevertheless, way too hard on it. Suffice it to say, I left the theatre in 1992 feeling uplifted and with food for thought.
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Art Movie
vcuty1 November 2006
this is an art movie it can enter international film festival competitions specially for Om pare acting in this movie ,to be nominated as best actor, photography Patrick Swazi acting was good though bit exaggerated in some scenes the tale really moved me and the weaving of the plot was well made the two kids did a very good acting, the supporting actors acted well,i wished the movie would last longer direction was excellent and in some parts it enabled the spectator to feel really involved in the action. the camera ,took real expressions ,and portrayed an ugly side in India,yet a beautiful one. its one movie ill always remember
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Patrick Swayze is tormented doctor who wants to escape his past. Ultimately, he finds redemption in serving the poor in Calcutta.
chicago3-11 April 2007
An good-hearted and inspiring film. Those with a taste for gritty film-noirs won't like it. Swayze is bit too picture-perfect, and the characters maybe 2-D, but I don't mind. I love Joffe's themes of redemption, self-sacrifice, and compassion in midst of a world of hate and cruelty. Be leery of critics who are too harsh on this movie. I especially love the portrayal of the Indian people. I gave it a 10 because I didn't like the fact that the IMDb average is weighted at 5.8. Some people have their own agenda: maybe they don't like Swayze, don't like Joffe, whatever. Don't trust these ratings and evaluate the movie according to your own values.

Is the story a moral tale about personal redemption? Is it about class struggles and therefore a political drama? For some, there may be an issue with incoherence. (I found that to be the case for the Killing Fields). I personally like who Joffe blends these subplots and themes, making a human drama that is relevant to the individual and society at the same time.
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Precisely why I hate it
hipriti20 September 2004
The Western society has been fed ideas about India being a poor country. Movies like these only make those beliefs stronger. Such illustrations make it all the more difficult for Indians to be accepted abroad. Agreed there are poor and homeless in India, but why is there no representation of educated people if not the successful ones.

I totally hated the idea of the movie portraying Patrick Swayze as another Mother Teressa. In my opinion this movie has shown India in a very bad light giving wrong notions. It is unjust to discuss only one aspect of the society. Exactly the reason why people ask me, "When we go to India, can we hire an elephant right outside the airport so we do not have to walk on the roads so full of filth and snakes?"

Those who want a second opinion on contemporary Indian society should watch "Monsoon Wedding".
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A touching movie
benurahul6 September 2005
I appreciated the movie a lot. I also agree with MRP41082 ( in that it is unfair to portray India in this light so often, and the brighter side should be projected just as much. But the magnitude of the issues shown in the movie, and the fact that they stand larger than all our achievements, belittle the strides we have made so far. Despite portraying the heinous life of a laborer in India and the atrocities flung on the poor, at a visual level, there is a message in the movie at a spiritual level - that no matter what we are, where we belong, we love the people we love, and we hope for our children, and that we have the power to do anything. I feel the movie goes a long way in showing that perhaps the people there are dying of hunger, are shut in darkness for lack of exposure, yet they could rise and shine! I'd say, it almost puts us Indians on a pedestal.
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Passable, but thanks only to the Indian cast.
a_humble_movie_lover7 February 2006
Having been born and brought up in 'the City of Joy' and living in the western world for the last 5 years, I have mixed feelings about this movie. The locales (VERY much of Calcutta- the by-lanes, the rickshaws, tea stalls, colleges, streets- all of them) give it a sense of realism, but I'd have to say that the movie does get too preachy. The hero does save the day in the end, but well, this is not the Calcutta one relates to. It is the centre for art, culture, music, drama, books, literature- and the now-made-famous-by-Late Mother Teresa's work, the outskirts of Calcutta. Cinematically, the movie does get dragging at times and one starts questioning the motive of the director Roland Joffe (sympathy or point blank nakedness? Trying to make people aware of hit them at weak points to arouse interest?) but it is a passable "entertainer", strictly due to the wonderful work by the Indian cast, especially the great Om Puri as Hazari. Could have been a great one if it followed the book a little closer.
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Possibly the worst example of film editing ever
MRP4108211 January 2000
This movie lacked what every movie needs: ORDER. The film's editing was very poor, and it made the transitions very rough. When it becomes fashionable to attempt to develop characters, and then cut away to a scene of fleeing people, this movie may become a masterpiece. But, PROBABLY NOT.

Also, let us not forget Patrick Swayze's in it. Not to say that all Swayze movies are bad, but this one is. I do not understand how anyone could call his performance "realistic" or "brilliant" because it is neither of those things.

While City of Joy may have a nice message, it does a poor job at developing and presenting it.
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just another example of an awful movie with a big star
scoobydoo2000ms2 June 2000
I have to question Patrick Swayze's motivation for taking part in this film. I agree that on the face "City Of Joy" was a good movie, otherwise I wouldn't have rented it.

However, this was a film that was really hard to get through because it went nowhere fast. I expected to see more out of this film and by the time I was satisfied it was too late in the movie. For what the premis was, "City Of Joy' only worked in the later stages of the movie.

If the director could have some way started earlier with Patrick Swayze's character caring, it could have worked. The only thing I found that was interesting was the devastation of the living conditions of the citizens had to live in: I thought the director did a good job of showing that.

I do not recommend this film at all.
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Life in a Calcuttan ghetto
Wuchakk14 March 2014
"City of Joy" has a lot going for it: A great director ("The Killing Fields," "The Mission (Two-Disc Special Edition)"), a great cast (Patrick Swayze, Om Puri) and outstanding locations/sets (Calcutta). It's a worthwhile film with a lot of good and it's clear that 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire" borrowed from it, but it's not a standout picture. Why? Because great films take you into the world of the characters to the point that you forget you're watching a movie. While I think "City of joy" is a very worthwhile film, it failed to do this for me. Too often I was conscious of the fact that I was watching actors in a movie.

Another problem is that the story jumped around without a good sense of flow. For instance, near the end with about 25 minutes left, the story jumps to the monsoon storms and the salvation of someone, which takes a few minutes; it then jumps right back into the main story. If you had gotten up to go to the kitchen you'd have missed it. Bad flow.

Regardless, this is a film that can have a positive effect on your life. Suddenly, your life doesn't seem too bad and you find yourself exceedingly grateful for your lot in life. I literally wept through parts of the first half, which is a sign of a worthwhile film, even though it's a mixed bag.

This one needed more time & effort to develop, but sometimes filmmakers pull the plug prematurely to just "get the job done," and it shows.

The film runs 132 minutes.

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Finding Joy In The Darkest Corner
Chrysanthepop23 October 2011
Based on Dominique LaPierre's book, Roland Joffé's 'City of Joy' may have received mixed responses as it's one of those films that one either connects with or not. I really enjoyed it from start to finish. Yes, Calcutta is portrayed as being impoverished and one could argue that the film was made to cater to the Western audience who don't see India beyond poverty and slums, but that putting that aside, the film has heart and one doesn't have to be Western or Indian to relate to the issues that are brought forth, to the conflicts the characters come across and to their values.

On the technical side, it's a very well made film. Peter Biziou's cinematography authentically captures the rawness of Calcutta city and life in the slums. In addition, Ennio Morricone's score is spellbinding. Gerry Hambling's editing is solid.

Patrick Swayze turns in one of his career best performances. His depiction of Max's growth from the angry hot-headed ex-doctor to the compassionate and caring 'family-man' is superb. Om Puri is equally terrific as the down-to-earth humble Hasari who, just like any familyman, wants the best for his wife and children. They are supported by equally strong performers like Shabana Azmi and Pauline Collins. A very young Ayesha Dharkar does a sincere job.

Subtle, uplifting, poetic, poignant and beautiful are a few words that describe 'City of Joy'. It's one of the best of its kind.
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Talking about a Legacy
dave-930-42988522 December 2010
City Of Joy: I am writing this now because no one seems to have made a review post Patrick Swayze's death. I enjoyed the movie before this, but I am also wise enough to see its flaws. Saying this I still cannot help but to see the movie as a legacy I'm sure he would be proud of. It's no Action sensation like Point Break but having traveled the sub-continent it has a sense of the sadness of reality. When you Google Patrick Swayze's top films it does not make the cut.... Pushed out instead by Ghost, Youngblood, Roadhouse, Dirty Dancing and so on. This film however makes me wonder what how he would rank his film achievements.
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Too many topics presented, none fully developed.
*Fiesta*10 June 2000
I'm generally cynical about this movie, as you'll see, but at least I have one nice thing to say about it: City of Joy touches on the idea that giving to others is a form of therapy.

Now that that's out of the way, this movie is basically one unexplained trite lesson after the next. I detest movies that hint at major events but never develop them. Swayze's character, Max, tells us in passing that he was forced to lie to his own mother about his father's extramarital affair, which I guess is supposed to account for his twenty years or so of selfish behavior. A little love thing is hinted at between Max and Joan Bethel, the good-hearted nurse, but again, is never unraveled. We're told that healthy Calcutta-folk despise the leprosy-stricken population, but... come on now -- aren't things a little more complicated than that in reality? I could see a whole 2 hour special taking place on NPR about the relationship between Indian middle-class society and the lepers.

Also, I'm no expert on Indian culture, but it seems like City of Joy fails miserably at depicting life as it really is in Calcutta, what with the dowry and all.

City of Joy is a very unmemorable movie that has lots of holes in its plot. No single character comes even close to being developed. Also, you can tell that whoever put together this film had a good time on some trip in Europe or the Middle East or something playing around with local kids. Well, at least the poor kids were kind of cute sometimes. I can see how you might enjoy the scenery and convenient depiction of Indian society, but you'll probably just end up thinking about how much of a provincial redneck Max is, and asking yourself how any landlord could be such an idiot.
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