Unmistaken Child

"Good"

Unmistaken Child Review


The new documentary Unmistaken Child, written and directed by first-time director Nati Baratz, takes the search for the returning spirit of the recently passed Geshe Lama Konchong, a praised Rinpoche Lama, as high drama. It is being released by Oscilloscope Pictures, the indie distribution company responsible for housing Wendy and Lucy and the lovely Treeless Mountain. It is also the company run by Adam Yauch, one-third of the Beastie Boys and a spearhead of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts that went on from 1996 to 2001. By releasing Baratz's film, he has found yet another venue in which to impart his fascination with these oddly jubilant, somewhat nomadic people.

At first, the focus is on monk Tenzin Zopa, Konchong's Heart Disciple and attendant for over 20 years. It is Zopa's charge to scour the Tsum Valley of Nepal for Konchong's reincarnated being. According to the remnants of Geshe's pyre, he had an almost immediate reincarnation and readings by a Taiwanese astrologist give him the hints that the child's father's name will start with an "A" and that the letters "Ts" hold a crucial clue to the location. Spiritual quest as scavenger hunt, one may think.

Like upcoming dolphin-activist documentary The Cove and last year's Man on Wire, Unmistaken Child has the structure and pacing of fiction. Whereas the aforementioned films evoke thrillers in form, Unmistaken Child emulates foreign arthouse dramas of the most polarized sort. Little Buddha, this is not: Zopa's travels are silent, humble, and recurring until he finds a toddler near his home village that picks out Geshe's rosary and will not give it back.

What follows is a nimble but rudimentary procedural as this child, now past his first birthday, begins to face counsels, tests, and inquiries into his very being. Baratz's style is sober and plainspoken, though there is something to be said about how, as the child is examined, the viewer begins to question both the ceremonial aspects of the culture and Baratz's inclusion. In fact, the Israeli-born filmmaker's biggest problem is a happy accident: He has introduced us to such an isolated way of life that we inevitably have more questions than his 100-minute doc can answer.

Baratz's film works best when it is dedicated to Zopa and the child. It is, in actuality, a very rough but dedicated character study, one that maps how Buddhist monks communicate to one another and how their relationships are formed. I was reminded at moments of Philip Gröning's superior, meditative Into Great Silence, where the viewer wandered the dusty, echoing halls of the Grande Chartreuse with the Carthusian monks. Unmistaken Child never invites us to fully understand Buddhism nor does it try to recreate the supposed moments of enlightenment. It is about the people who believe in Buddhism and how fundamentally human they are despite their reclusive nature. I'll add one thing: In comparison to the grueling inquiries over the child and Zopa's journey, a couple of years at seminary looks like a frat party.



Unmistaken Child

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 4th June 2009

Box Office Worldwide: $302 thousand

Distributed by: Ocilloscope Pictures

Production compaines: Samsara Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Nati Baratz

Producer: Nati Baratz, Arik Bernstein, Ilil Alexander

Starring: Tenzin Zopa as Tenzin Zopa

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.