Review: ‘Enlighten Up!: A Skeptic’s Journey into the World of Yoga’

Well-crafted pic traverses the globe, interviewing a who's-who of gurus and investigating a wide range of regimens.

When filmmaker Kate Churchill, herself a practicing yoga enthusiast, invites journalist and yoga virgin Nick Rosen to sample various forms of the discipline for six months to see if it transforms his life, she creates an interesting dual viewpoint and a fascinating tug-of-war for control of her film, “Enlighten Up!” Well-crafted pic traverses the globe, interviewing a who’s-who of gurus and investigating a wide range of regimens — with Rosen as both questioner and body-contorting guinea pig. Opening April 1 at Gotham’s IFC Center, this simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and reverential docu will entertain the unenlightened without alienating the faithful.

Pic conducts a whirlwind tour of a dizzying array of practices that all call themselves forms of yoga, presided over by a host of practitioners ranging from benevolent sages to burning-eyed ascetics, with assorted lecherous ex-wrestlers, New Age mystics and glorified aerobics teachers thrown in for good measure. Rosen, as narrator, dictates the pic’s meaning, but as he fails to manifest any appreciable onset of spirituality, Churchill allows her angry disappointment to become a dramatic factor, her whispered asides attempting to steer Rosen’s pragmatic queries down more metaphysical paths.

Enlighten Up!: A Skeptic's Journey into the World of Yoga

Production

A Balcony Releasing release of a Tuka Prods./Nama Prods. production. Produced by Kate Churchill. Executive producers, Jeanne Hagerty, Tom Hagerty. Directed by Kate Churchill. Written by Churchill, Jonathon Hexner; story by Churchill, Hexner, Khari Streeter; editors, Streeter, Jonathan Sahula.

Crew

Music, Krishna Vankatesh. Reviewed on DVD, New York, March 25, 2009. English, Hindi dialogue. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Nick Rosen, B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Norman Allen, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Dharma Mittra, Diamond Dallas Page, Sharath Rangaswamy, Madan Kataria, Rodney Yee, Cindi Lee, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Alan Finger, Baron Baptiste, Beryl Bender Birch, Natasha Rizopoulos.
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