Buddhist murder mystery "Mindfulness and Murder" is a visually lush curiosity that blends an Agatha Christie-like structure with luxurious visuals, but at a pace so languid, it fails to excite the senses.

Buddhist murder mystery “Mindfulness and Murder” is a visually lush curiosity that blends an Agatha Christie-like structure with luxurious visuals, but at a pace so languid, it fails to excite the senses. The directorial bow of Thai-born, English-educated producer Tom Waller (“Soi Cowboy”), the pic received a lackluster response from Thai auds on its April release, and is more likely to appeal to the Asia curious and Buddha-philes. Fest play is possible, but international prospects are limited.

When a homeless youth’s corpse turns up at Bangkok’s Manahat temple and police do nothing, ex-cop turned Buddhist monk Father Ananda (co-writer, Vithaya Pansringarm) decides to head the investigation — only to discover that many of his fellow monks are less holy-than-thou. Helmer glides on to his subjects like a predatory photographer and overdoes the slo-mo, but his direction is not charmless. Story, taken from a pulp series by Thai-residing American Nick Wilgus, has an appealing whodunit structure, but an abrupt denouement has the feel of a book slammed shut. Pansringarm is an assuring lead, but supporting perfs vary. HD lensing is postcard-exquisite, and Olivier Liboutry’s seductive score enhances the atmosphere.

Mindfulness and Murder

Thailand

Production

An M Pictures release of a Tiger Entertainment presentation of a De Warrenne Pictures production. (International sales: De Warrenne Pictures, Bangkok) Produced by Michael Pritchett, Tom Waller. Co-producers, Andrew Harrison. Directed by Tom Waller. Screenplay, Vithaya Pansringarm, Waller, Nick Wilgus, based on the book by Wilgus.

Crew

Camera (color), Wade Muller; editor, Sawit Prasertphan; music, Olivier Liboutry; production designer, Pongnarin Jonghawklang; art director, Siritiorn Nimongkol. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, May 5, 2011. (In Udine Far East Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Vithaya Pansringarm, Abhijati Jusakul, Prinya Intachai, Kitsada Hongsakrai, Sunon Wachirawarakarn, Chaiwat Sadindum, Pakapong Sangkasi, Jaran Petcharoen.

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