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"To me, it seems like a healthy trend that we can view life's many challenges with a bit of humor combined with spiritual awareness."

 

Raymond Teague is the author of Reel Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
Inspire, Explore and Empower
, from Unity House. 

He is an award-winning
journalist, an editor of spiritual publications, a popular New Thought
speaker, and a lifelong movie buff. 

His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.

  Raymond Teague, 
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews

The Mexican
(2001, 124 minutes, R for violence and language)

The Mexican is trendy for more than the two obvious reasons - Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. Or even the almost-as-obvious reasons -- gangsters crisscrossing North America and The Sopranos star James Gandolfini scoring as a likeable hoodlum.

It's trendy for a more enlightened reason, too - for being one of those quirky, off-beat movies that are both entertaining and insightful. Interviewers and readers are frequently surprised by the great variety of movies included in my book Reel Spirit: A Guide to Movies That Inspire, Explore and Empower, and by the equally varied new movies that I review. It's my contention that inspirational messages are contained in all types of movies -- we just have to be open to them.

The two movies in the book about which I'm most asked are both comedies --Monty Python's irreverent spoof Life of Brian and the zany National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

My response? Enjoy the movies -- and life --and let yourself be aware of the meanings presented to us, often quite blatantly.

Life of Brian, for example, has valuable lessons about thinking for ourselves in matters of religion and faith, and Christmas Vacation gives an example of true Christmas zeal and love.

Embedded in the quirkiest, most off-beat movies we can find characters that champion the human spirit and situations that explore the fullness and meaning of life. In many movies where we don't expect to find much meaning, we may find wisdom.

The Mexican is such a movie, and it joins a respectable group of recent quirky, off-beat films with messages. That we're seeing so many of these movies now is a trend that surely says something about the world's perspective. To me, it seems like a healthy trend that we can view life's many challenges with a bit of humor combined with spiritual awareness. Recent examples of such movies include:

Chocolat, a delicious fairy tale with themes of tolerance and forgiveness

Shanghai Noon, a western-martial arts yarn with messages of trust and loyalty

O Brother, Where Art Thou?, an updated Homeric search for life's meaning

The Straight Story, based on a true story about a man who rides a tractor-type lawn mower on a slow journey of forgiveness

Chicken Run, a claymation creation with examples of faith and positive outlooks

Onto this playing field comes The Mexican, which should not be dismissed merely as an action or adventure film or just a quirky vehicle for its stars. Beyond the engaging, even magical, story about efforts to recover a stolen antique gun, the movie fires off a most valuable and revealing insight about that most important of Spirit-filled emotions, love.

In The Mexican, the central idea about true love is initially presented from an unexpected source - Gandolfini's character, who has abducted Sam (Roberts). Sam and her boyfriend, Jerry (Pitt), are in therapy to help their stormy relationship. Sam and her abductor form an interesting bond based on their need to give and receive love; they help each other more clearly understand love, what it means, and what they want out of a relationship.

Sam's abductor asks her this question: When you really love someone but things don't seem to be working out, when do you know enough is enough? Characteristically, Sam responds with a lot of psychiatric mumbo-jumbo that makes little sense other than to reveal her own self-centeredness. The abductor's reply to the question - If you really love someone, when is enough enough? - is "Never."

The response obviously brings Sam up short. Later she asks Jerry the same question. And his answer gives Sam pause for considerable thought again -as it should all who hear it - and is a defining moment in the couple's relationship.

Why? Because they realize with the question and answer what is the nature of true, unselfish, unconditional love. With unconditional love, which is love at its spiritual purity, there is no end to understanding, patience, support, and forgiveness.

True love also, as another character points out, involves an openness to realize that people can change and therefore should not be perceived solely by their pasts.

Yes, The Mexican is enjoyably quirky, but director Gore Verbinski's film also is wise in the matters of true love.

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