Expats in film: International living Hollywood-style

Adam Vagley @goodmigrations

Moving overseas is serious business. It involves your family, all your life’s possessions and a sizable chunk of change. Choosing to live the life of an expat is a big step to take. Here are a few of our favorite famous expats in film and what we feel their choice of country says about them.

Expats-in-Film-Bourne-Supremacy

The Bourne Supremacy

Expat Name: Jason Bourne

Old Country: United States

New Country: India

Synopsis: It’s hard to keep up with Jason Bourne, the amnesia-afflicted spy who just wants to be left alone but always has someone trying to kill him. Invariably this means Jason will hotwire some old, crappy hatchback and wrecklessly drive through a dense city while dodging assassins.

What his choice of country says about him: While a he’s got an intense personality, what with people always shooting at him, Mr. Bourne appreciates the laidback lifestyle of the beach, the easy fashion of the sari, and good curry.

Expats-in-Film-Last-King-Scotland

The Last King of Scotland

Expat Name: Dr. Nicholas Garrigan

Old Country: Scotland

New Country: Uganda

Synopsis: This 2006 film tells the exploits of Dr. Garrigan, who goes to Uganda and by chance becomes the personal physician to Idi Amin. After sleeping with one of Amin’s wives and challenging some of his policies — and oh yes, trying to poison Amin — they have a slight falling out.
What his choice of country says about him: Under Amin’s rule, Uganda was a popular destination for expats…said no one ever. Obviously, the doc likes exciting places, and by “exciting” I mean “extremely dangerous”. Like hanging by meat-hooks-stuck-through-your-chest-skin dangerous.

Expats-in-Film-Casablanca

Casablanca

Expat Name: Rick Blaine

Old Country: United States, Spain

New Country: Morocco

Synopsis: Ranked as the second best film of all time by the American Film Institute, Rick’s Bar in Casablanca played host to Nazis, freedom fighters, shady characters, and — ah yes — the love of his life. Can he help her and her husband escape to the neutral country of Portugal?

What his choice of country says about him: Personally, I’d move to Morocco just for the tagine, not to mention the beautiful geography and hospitality of its people. But it seems Rick just has a knack for cosmopolitan international cities. And cosmopolitans. Which is why he started a bar.

Expats-in-Film-Constant-Gardener

Constant Gardener

Expat Name: Justin Quayle

Old Country: United Kingdom

New Country: Kenya

Synopsis: A low level British diplomat takes his activist wife back to Kenya. She investigates a corrupt pharmaceutical company. He tends the garden. It doesn’t end well for anybody.

What his choice of country says about him: Given Britain’s long history in Kenya (well, since 1895), a move to Kenya is like going to your 2nd cousin’s house: a little bit foreign, but a little bit familiar as well.

Expats-in-Film-Under-Tuscan-Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun

Expat Name: Frances Maye

Old Country: United States

New Country: Italy

Synopsis: After her husband gets a younger woman preggers, leading to a rough divorce, Frances jets off to Italy and ends up buying a villa in a charming Italian village. She gradually finds her footing in a new environment and starts life anew.

What her choice of country says about her: Frances is into the good life: good food, good culture, and good wine. But not Italian men, apparently, since it’s the American writer at the end who catches her eye (sorry to ruin the end for anyone who hasn’t seen it).

Expats-in-Film-Madagascar

The penguins from Madagascar

Expat Names: Skipper, Rico, Kowalksi, and Private
Old Country: United States

New Country: Um…Madagascar?

Synopsis: Animals escape from the Central Park Zoo and wind up in Madagascar. They meet the native animals. Hilarity ensues.

What their choice of country says about them: Well, the penguins are a little bit crazy, and they arrived on the island by pure accident, so let’s not read too much into this.

Expats-in-Film-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Expat Names: Evelyn, Graham, Jean, Douglas, Muriel
Old Country: United Kingdom

New Country: India

Synopsis: For various reasons, British pensioners end up at a retirement home in India that is not quite as expected.

What their choice of country says about them: Location, location, location…is what most people say. But these expats were primarily driven by budget, budget, budget.  And right now one British pound will get you 100 rupees. Which will buy quite a few samosas. Sounds like reason enough to me.

Here are some other films featuring expats.

-The Last Samurai

-Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

-Midnight in Paris

-Last Tango in Paris

-The King & I

-Lost in Translation

-The Hundred Foot Journey

What other movies with expat characters can you think of? Let us know in the comments.

Are you a new expat? Check out our tips on staying in touch with friends and family back home.

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