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Best Movies About Expat Life

From towering masterpieces of architecture to breathtaking natural scenery and lit-up romantic skylines, nothing inspires me to travel or move overseas quite like seeing a place on the big screen.

Movies have such a great power to inspire and trigger an itch for adventure, travel and mystery. They express feelings of freedom and explore ways in which personal journeys can change people’s lives.

There are so many classic and modern day films about expatriate life, it’s hard to find a definitive list. Here are just a handful of favorites.

Lost In Translation

Directed by Sofia Coppola
Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson

Lost in Translation The film focuses on Charlotte’s personal struggle as she attempts to see a future for herself as John’s wife while also finding a career with which she can be happy. Bob and Charlotte become fast friends, and as they explore the culturally rich landscape of Tokyo, their friendship threatens to develop into something more.

Set in Japan, Lost In Translation describes the chance meeting between a well-known American actor, Bob, and a trailing spouse named Charlotte who is accompanying her celebrity photographer husband, John, while he is on assignment in Tokyo.

As they look for their “place in life” in a completely foreign and unfamiliar environment with cultural and language disparities, both characters blunder their way through the dynamic city of Tokyo.

The Beach

Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Virginie Ledoyen, Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle

American backpacker, Richard (DiCaprio) arrives in Thailand seeking adventure. While staying in a seedy hotel in Bangkok, he meets a drugged-out character Daffy (Robert Carlyle) who tells him a fantastic story of a secluded island beach that’s a “paradise on earth.”

Richard decides to embark on a journey to find the beach taking along with him a young french couple. After a treacherous journey they finally reach their destination but the idyllic paradise soon becomes a nightmare.

Into The Wild

Directed by Sean Penn
Starring Emile Hersh, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener

Into the Wild is an adaptation of the popular book by Jon Krakauer, the true story of Chris McCandless, a young Emory graduate who is found dead in the Alaskan wilderness in September 1992 at the age of twenty-four.

After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness in search of a greater spiritual knowledge and communion with nature. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

The Painted Veil

Director John Curran
Starring Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber

Somerset Maugham’s novel The Painted Veil was first adapted into a film in 1934.

Remade in 2006, the film tells the story of an Austrian woman who is forced to accompany her doctor husband to a remote Chinese province afflicted with cholera after she reveals her affair to him.

In an act of vengeance, he accepts the job in a remote village in China ravaged by the deadly epidemic.

It is to be her punishment. But it may be redemption for them both. Their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth.

Our Other Favorite “Just Get Up and Move” Movies

Some other travel inspiring movies include:

  • Endless Summer
  • Before Sunrise
  • Indiana Jones movies
  • 7 Years In Tibet
  • The Bourne Identity
  • The English Patient
  • A View To A Kill
  • Casablanca
  • The African Queen
  • Out Of Africa
  • Under The Tuscan Sun
  • How To Lose Friends And Alienate People
  • Life Of PI

What are some of your favorite films that pique your sense of adventure and inspire you to travel?

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