Monday, April 02, 2007

Peaceful Warrior

Thanks to Aleeca, I was able to attend a free preview screening of Peaceful Warrior this weekend. Billed as a "powerful tale of enlightenment and redemption," among other things, the film, "inspired by actual events," may nevertheless be tired and bound with cliche, but the core messages are not without merit or meaning.

Dan Millman is a college gymnast destined for a spot on the podium at the next Olympic games. He has everything: popularity, youthful exuberance, a flair with the opposite sex, good grades, and a rising star. But his pride and ambition might be blinding him from appreciating his good fortune. When his hopes are dashed by a near miss encounter with death, Dan has to confront himself head on in a mirror held by service station shaman known to us only as Socrates (played by Nick Nolte channeling his best Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazzard). Dan finds himself accepting new challenges and reflecting on all he's taken for granted under the aegis (and coaching), of his Buddhist teacher. Will he heed the lessons?

My wife was unforgiving of the film's use of convention. And while I see her side (and that of many leading critics, I'm afraid), I couldn't help but notice a group of teenagers noticeably shaken as we exited the theater. A father and son (probably no older than 12), lingered afterwards discussing the lessons of the film. I was actually moved by the repetition of the lessons, myself. They bear repeating. The simple fact that we find ourselves at the movies for this pop philosophy session indicates that there is still cause to question much of what we fail to recognize as we go forth each day. What did you take for granted today?

3 out of 5 stars


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