Movies move us, affect us, entertain us, and some movies evoke a surge of inspiration and emotion that encourages us to keep moving forward.
These are the cinematic tales of people so much like us, living lives so much like our own, and experiencing challenges and pain so much like the kind we know all too well.
Their stories of hope, downfall, and rising from the ashes (or gradual climb, otherwise) can inspire us on a personal level.
The Pursuit of Happyness
Many know of this heart-twisting film because of its very famous star, Will Smith, appearing alongside his young real-life son, Jaden Smith.
He moved away from his typical action hero role for a moment to play struggling near-homeless salesman and father, Chris Gardner. The tale of an ambitious entrepreneur investing all his life savings into an idea is one we hear happen all the time.
Based on a memoir, it lays out the day-to-day battle that we can easily imagine as our own, all in the innocent pursuit of personal happiness.
The way it portrays the cruel and partial, yet endlessly possible, reality inspires us to never lose sight of tomorrow, which holds anything and everything.
Gimme Shelter has become one of my personal favorites since it made itself known on Netflix. Actress Vanessa Hudgens, commonly affiliated with the whimsical High School Musical movies, shocks us into realizing she’s past that typecast by portraying Agnes Bailey, a teenage girl who makes a bold move to change her horrible life of foster care and an abusive mother.
She runs away and seeks out her estranged father. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she takes refuge in a home for pregnant teens under the care of Kathy, a woman who started the shelter after experiencing her own bout of homelessness.
The emotional tragedies of a child living out the consequences of their parents’ choices are all too common. The film’s beautiful ending of Agnes finding a family and home lifts one’s spirits when they wonder if there is still good in store for the good at heart.
The Devil Wears Prada
The glittering cast of Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt certainly makes this film an entertaining one, but digging under the surface, we see the teeth-gritting story of a young woman eager to make her dream a reality while being forced to climb the ladder rungs.
How many 20-somethings can relate to this tale? The struggle of young people pursuing their career goals is perhaps the one easily understood by all.
The protagonist displays the typical behavioral binds of “I don’t have a choice” and compromising one’s personal life for the sake of job security.
Her decision of getting out of something that brought her misery despite plunging into the vulnerable stage of joblessness reminds us that, sometimes, life must be done in risks.
The Nanny Diaries
A story similar to that of The Devil Wears Prada, this film portrays 21-year-old Annie (Scarlett Johansson), a little too eager and a little too naïve of the ways of the world.
She gets herself in way over her head when she’s hired as a nanny for a New York socialite. This position quickly opens her eyes to reality and to what she’s really capable of.
Any person, no matter their age, can relate to having that experience that knocked some sense into their clueless heads. Annie’s newly educated approach to life is an inspiring one of moving on, something we can all learn to do.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
A delightful period piece, Miss Pettigrew still contains the relatable story of a common struggling citizen, this time as a middle-aged destitute governess in pre-WWII London.
Guinevere Pettigrew changes her life with one bold move that thrusts her into the glamorous and clamorous life of American singer Delysia Lafosse for one day.
She is like a lost puppy that finds her way, at the same time making an impacting difference in Delysia’s life. Her insistence to keep her chin up throughout inspires us to hold ourselves in the same manner.