Becoming Who I Was
Ambitious in scope and overflowing with good intentions, the documentary Becoming Who I Was requires a significant leap of faith to go along with its subjects', uh, faith.
Shot over the course of nearly a decade in Ladakh, India, the film follows child monk Padma Angdu, an apparent Rinpoche aka reincarnation of a great lama, a status based solely on reminiscences he made as a small child about a previous life lived in Kham, Tibet, and supported by other Buddhists, namely his godfather Urgain Rigzin.
The topic is a hefty one for South Korean directors Chang-Yong Moon and Jin Jeon to cover, and though they touch on details surrounding religious and village politics and other obstacles that hamper Padma's return to his Tibetan monastery, their observational style fails to develop these components beyond a base level.
All but unaddressed is the balance of this old soul within a vessel that very much expresses the emotions of a frightened little boy, and how viewers outside of the Buddhist faith are to reconcile these conflicting parts.
As the Rinpoche and his guardian remain steadfast in their beliefs and embark upon a long journey, Padma's sweet nature and the admirable devotion of Urgain help keep spirits as high as possible in fairly dire circumstances. The stunning sights of raw Asian landscapes offer their own cinematic perks, but these measures of goodwill only extend so far and can’t quite compensate for the film’s spotty storytelling.
Grade: C-plus. Not rated, but suitable for most audiences. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Cargo Releasing)