Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Enlightenment Guaranteed (1999)
Noted German filmmaker Doris Dorrie directs this understated comedy about two middle-aged brothers who go to study at a Zen monastery in Japan. The two brothers could not be more different. Uwe (Uwe Ochsenknecht) is a bored husband and kitchenware salesman, while Gustav (Gustav Peter Wohler) is a flighty feng shui consultant and Eastern religions devotee. Just as Gustav is preparing to leave for the land of the rising sun, Uwe, whose wife just dumped him, begs his brother to let him tag along. The first night in Tokyo proves to be a disaster. After a night of drinking, the pair get lost, spend the last of their cash on an ill-fated taxi ride, lose their credit cards, and end up sleeping in some boxes on the city streets. But this deprivation prepares them for the hard living of monastic life, including 4:30 a.m. wake up calls, elaborate dining rituals, long periods of silent mediation, and a punishing cleaning routine. As the days wear on, Gustav soon finds himself buckling under the strain while Uwe demonstrates himself to be much more adaptable to a monk's life. The experience eventually brings the night-and-day brothers closer together. This film was screened at the 2000 Rotterdam Film Festival.
English, French and Spanish Subtitles.