If ever there were an antidote to the pace of American life, this movie would be it.

THE CUP

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


If ever there were an antidote to the pace of American life, this movie would be it. The Cup is a gentle tale of Tibetan monks living in exile in India. A generation gap has developed between their young, who are passionately interested in soccer, and their elders, who live in quiet dedication to their religion. As the World Cup approaches, Orgyen (Jamyang Lodro), an adolescent with only the Cup on his mind, organizes a movement to rent, against all odds, a satellite dish and a TV from a roadside Indian entrepreneur.

That's it for the dramatic content of this movie. Will they get the TV? Will it work? The peace of the Buddhist culture guarantees we will not suffer conflict, so settle in and let the quiet charm of the whole thing roll over you. The charm is in the details--of serving food, of carrying incense, of making butter tea. Time is abundant here. No one hurries--except young Orgyen, the hustler.

In the midst of all this dedication, Orgyen, wearing a sweaty soccer uniform under his monk's robe, has a mission. Borrowing the small savings of his peers, extorting money from the resident prognosticator, filling the air with pronouncements that are equal parts accuracy and ignorance, he is possessed. How much worldly information can a young boy accumulate in an isolated rural monastery in India? Enough, it seems, to organize his plan.

Orgyen, accompanied by two accomplices, sneaks out of the monastery to arrange the details of the TV rental. He sneaks back, against the odds of avoiding discovery by Geko (Orgyen Tobgyal), who reports his behavior to the elderly abbot. Befitting the culture, nothing much happens when rules are violated. Watch a joyful scene of the boys driving a tractor to pick up their prize. Watch for the moment when Orgyen weighs the consequences of a moral shortcut.

If you go to this movie expecting little, you will probably be charmed. You also might want to toss out some worldly possessions and make a lingering ritual of your morning breakfast. You might even slow yourself down. Be warned, though, that the pace of the movie, along with its one-note theme, will give you plenty of time to think.

As we watch the strength and beauty of the Tibetan ritual, an inevitable sadness washes over us. With instant communication, the young people in any society will want to bring into their own culture things they see and hear outside. Even if they could be home in Tibet, walled off by mountains at the top of the world, the Cup would reach them now. There will always be a young Orgyen who wants to lead his elders to change. Let's hope, as the old cultures crumble, that the changers carry with them the seeds of redemption, as this boy does.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 499
Studio : Fine Line Features
Rating : G
Running time : 1h34m


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