After "Little Buddha" and before Martin Scorsese's "Kundun," Western audiences may appreciate an Indian picture about a holy child being found and inducted into religious life. "Journey to Wisdom," superbly shot in southern Kerala with an excellent cast, is interesting in taking a disapproving view of how early monk-hood can destroy a boy and his family. Unfortunately, as promising as it starts out, pic self-destructs midway through and, instead of continuing its story, ends in an hour of flowing tears. It has become a local hit, and may appeal to markets for Indian product.
Pachu (Master Kumar) is a cute, bright boy of 10 brought up in a cultured environment. In an opening scene, he watches his father (Vijaya Raghavan) perform as a traditional Kathakali dancer and singer. The boy's skill at chess and memorizing the sacred Vedas brings him to the attention of the Acharya, the aged head of a nearby monastery. He selects Pachu to succeed him, an honor that thrills Pachu's old grandfather (Unnikrishnan Namboothiri) but sets his mother and father at odds.
Second half of film is given over to the protracted, teary regrets of each family member at losing Pachu, and the boy’s own sadness at losing his playmates, punctuated by piercing musical notes. When director Jayaraj finally gets the little Acharya over to the picturesque monastery, his ritual induction as head monk comes as an anti-climax. As for spiritual life and Pachu’s journey to wisdom, pic has nary a trace. This is particularly disappointing, given the obvious care with which the film was made.
Leading a notable cast is the humorously deep Namboothiri, certainly a contender for best film grandfather of the year. Raghavan plays a major role as Pachu’s artistic father, torn between religious beliefs, society’s expectations and family bonds, and Kumar is quite lively as the child saint. Top-quality tech credits, especially M.J. Radhakrishnan’s beautifully subtle camerawork, lend pic a refined look, while unusually fast pacing from editors B. Lenin and V.T. Vijayan keeps first half of the film moving swiftly.
Journey to Wisdom
A New Generation Cinema production. Produced, directed by Jayaraj. (International sales: National Film Development Corp.) Screenplay, Madampu Kunjukuttan.
Camera (color), M.J. Radhakrishnan; editors, B. Lenin, V.T. Vijayan; music, Mohan Sithara; art direction, Nadhan Kannur; sound, Krishnan Unni. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 15, 1997. (Also in Karlovy Vary Film Festival --- competing.) Running time: 114 MIN
When Disney first released “Aladdin” in 1992, Bill Clinton was just settling in to the Oval Office, “Game of Thrones” wasn’t much more than a book idea percolating in the mind of author George R.R. Martin, and Johnny Carson was wrapping up his stint as “Tonight Show” host. In some ways, 2019 feels like a [...]
Daniel Dae Kim, best known recently for ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” will join Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette in Joe Penna’s sci-fi thriller “Stowaway.” The movie marks the second feature from Penna and Ryan Morrison, the duo behind the Cannes Official Selection film “Arctic,” which released earlier this year. XYZ Films and CAA Media Finance [...]
CANNES — Karim Aïnouz’s “The Invisible Life” begins with two sisters, not much over 20, Eurídice (Carol Duarte) and Guida (Julia Stockler) sitting by the shore of one of the multiple bays around Rio de Janeiro, a lush tropical forest behind. They have all their life in front of them. Guida suddenly dashes off clambering [...]
Neon and Hulu have acquired North American rights to Céline Sciamma’s love story “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which premiered in competition at Cannes. Neon is planning a theatrical release for the film this year, which will include an awards campaign in all categories. The film is set in Brittany, France in 1770. Marianne [...]
“Superman” meets “The Omen” in “Brightburn,” a watchable but super-silly mix of superheroics and evil-child horror that mashes together singularly uninspired ideas from both. Offering R-rated fantasy competition to “Aladdin” this Memorial Day weekend, it should do OK with undiscriminating audiences seeking familiar, forgettable genre thrills. But the franchise prayers that an open-ended fadeout dangles [...]
Of all the characters in Walt Disney Studios’ canon, is there any more animated than the Genie from “Aladdin”? In 1992, old-school cartooning seemed the only way to keep up with comedian Robin Williams’ rapid-fire sense of humor and free-associative gift for improvisation. Much of the appeal of the original “Aladdin” came thanks to the [...]
If Tom Rothman is worried at all about the prospect of Netflix disrupting the movie business, he’s certainly not letting it be known. “We’re in the movie and the movie theater business so the truth is, and this is an honest answer, I just don’t spend much time thinking about it,” the Sony Pictures Motion [...]