film 3 of 6

Little Buddha

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 10, 2015

Bertolucci’s hard to figure, though that Premiere interview where he sounds like a lightweight Freudian and a callow pervert makes one wonder if it’s all Storaro, still, in what must be his most wholesome film to date, there are pleasures amidst the muddles; colour and design separation between sterile west and vibrant east is effective, the Buddhists are warmly and humanly portrayed, the parallel narrative between Siddhartha and the boy is intriguing, if not completely integrated or sensical, the miraculous birth, with the bending tree and the singing mother and the blooming flowers and the joy-filled attendants, is very moving, full of reverence and beauty, the surprising choice of Keanu Reeves is even more surprising because, in addition to being very beautiful, he’s also very good, Chris Isaak, who seems to be the pivotal character, is completely lost here, which obviously hurts the movie, the pre-sex scene after the friend or brother’s death is a nice example of sensuality not just for effect, but as a full and nuanced part of a full and nuanced life, the long story of Siddhartha’s final enlightenment, where the children enter the scene (I don’t know why, but it’s neat), is very successful, and the end where the master salutes the three children is quite sweet; as to the point, I don’t know, except maybe that it’s a hippie-like advocacy of eastern spiritualities