Years ago while living in another state, I was bored and went to the local "mom and pop" video store to find something to pass the time. The proprietor asked me what type of movie I preferred. I responded that I like movies that are good stories about people, relationships, friendships, etc.
He recommended "Bagdad Cafe".
A few years later, the video store was driven out of business by the larger chains. It is too bad really, because I doubt that I would ever have stumbled upon this little gem of a movie at one of the huge mega video marts that are popping up all over the planet like unwanted zits, but I digress.
I owe that person a huge "Thank you!" for introducing me to what has become one of my all time favorite movies.
I was strangely pulled into the movie right from the beginning. For me, it was like a great book that you just can't put down, and that you want to read over, and over again to see if you missed anything, or merely to recapture the warm feeling you got the first time through.
What is also unusual is that after more than 10 years have passed, I recently was able to talk my 25-year-old son into watching it with me. His comment about midway through was, "I am strangely drawn to this movie." At the end, he said it was "Great!" and asked me if it had won any awards. I found this perspective amazing coming from someone who regularly feeds on a diet of movies such as "Lord of the Rings", "Matrix", and "Kill Bill." Go figure.
From my limited observation of those who appreciate this movie (like me), I have come to the conclusion that this is a movie that works without being able to explain why. When asked to describe in one word what this movie is about, the best response I can come up with is "friendship." However, that is such a lame description, because there is so much more to the movie than just that.
Yet, on the surface, one could get the mistaken impression that there is not really much going on "Bagdad Cafe". There are no car chases, love scenes, murders, suicides, explosions, deaths, births, weddings, or funerals. The movie just, "is."
It is a slice of mid-life for two women, Jasmine & Brenda, when their paths cross. These two are women who are trying to cope with their respective lots in life, which from external appearances seem to be quite diverse. However, at the heart they are really the same. Both are in ruts, looking for change, for something better in the middle of nowhere, when they find each other. Once the rock-hard exterior melts away and they reach a common ground, their blossoming friendship transforms both.
The character of Jasmine is the glue that brings the story together. In "Bagdad Cafe", she gives new meaning to the old saying, "making lemonade out of lemons" and in the process, she also brings magic and new energy into the life of Brenda and her family. The subtlety of the revelation of Jasmine's real character is one of the best examples of a human metamorphosis ever captured on the screen.
If you are looking for a movie with special effects of epic proportions, or new adventures in creative violence, this movie might not be for you. However, if you are looking for a story about humanity, love and friendship done with a "light" touch, then pop the popcorn and put on "Bagdad Cafe" and enjoy.
Oh, and to the owner of the little video store who recommended this movie to me, where ever you are, thank you for bringing the magic of "Bagdad Cafe" into my life.