‘Sing Me a Song’ review: Romance meets technology in Bhutan

The visually poetic, observational nonfiction movie “Sing Me a Song” follows a youthful Bhutanese monk named Peyangki as he individually encounters digital disruption. Constructed a lot more like a coming-of-age drama than a documentary, it spins a interesting tale of romantic melancholy played out from the peaceful, meditative backdrop of the Himalayas.

A adhere to-up to director Thomas Balmès’ 2014 movie “Happiness” (out there no cost on line from PBS), which chronicled the boy’s initiation into a monastery and his family’s pursuit of its initial tv set right after the arrival of electrical energy in the remote village of Laya, the highest settlement in Bhutan, “Sing Me a Song” continues the saga with extra concentrated narrative generate than its predecessor.

We 1st fulfill Peyangki as the joyful, cost-free-spirited 8-yr-old we observed at the stop of “Happiness,” managing, skipping and singing quietly as he helps make a crown of bouquets. He confides to the camera that he hopes to turn into a lama and shares his pleasure about a single day seeing airplanes and tall structures. He recounts the apocryphal story of how his father died of a heart assault upon encountering a bear on the day Peyangki was born.

Fast forward 10 decades and Peyangki is dwelling in a nearby monastery, woke up each early morning by the alarm on his now omnipresent mobile cellphone, electrical power possessing introduced the internet to Laya. Even during their early morning prayers, the youthful monks are as inseparable from their equipment as any teenagers — texting, gaming and looking at films — but Peyangki is specifically besotted.

Peyangki struggles with his scientific studies and concerns that he is not clever enough to discover, oblivious to functional concerns and the absence of a legitimate spiritual calling. His a single solace? Listening to adore tracks on the WeChat application on his phone. On the net, he satisfies a bar singer named Ugyen who lives in the cash metropolis of Thimphu (a veritable metropolis of additional than 100,000 men and women), and the two embark on a tentative relationship — though neither is totally forthcoming with the other.

Peyangki, Ugyen and her youthful daughter in the documentary “Sing Me a Music.”

Balmès artfully moves amongst the two young men and women, withholding commentary and judgment, as they navigate the onset of adulthood, the restrictions of their environments and the vastness of the planet that rests in the palm of their arms. Even with the reduced-important mother nature of the subjects, it is a truly riveting story as we hold out to see what happens when these worlds collide.

The film functions similarly well on an ethnographic level. In continuing with Peyangki’s hesitant existence as a monk, Balmès bears intimate witness to an individual teetering on the edge of monastic daily life. It’s a tough route, but the movie also offers a additional whimsical side, including an apparent shout-out to Bhutanese filmmaker Khyentse Norbu’s charming 1999 movie “The Cup.” Balmès’ juxtaposition of hardscrabble rural existence and city life in which anything can be commodified — even dreams — offers a captivating portal into a a lot less common lifestyle.

Ultimately about points higher than the impression of know-how, “Sing Me a Song” inevitably qualified prospects us back to an assessment of the before film’s title: What is “Happiness”? With 2020 in our collective rear-look at mirror and the tentative promise of 2021 on us, you could do worse than kicking off the new yr with this transient meditation.

‘Sing Me a Song’

In Dzongkha with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Taking part in: Accessible in virtual cinemas, like Laemmle Theatres, and on VOD

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