Directed by Andrew Krakower/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
A great story doesn’t take much. It can have a lot if the writer envisions it so, but all it takes is one or two main characters and an end-goal. Something that drives the protagonist, something that creates sense for doing what he or she does. In some movies, the protagonist goes on to save the world, revenge a dead partner or a friend, or even change the very fabric of the universe. These movies are exceptional and out of this world because we know we could never experience that in real life.
But some, some protagonists want a ball, a ball they can kick around whenever they wish so. Although it might not sound as breathtaking as saving the world from a purple guy with a golden glove, it can be as intense, heartbreaking, and also rewarding for the viewer. Yarne by Andrew Krakower delivers exactly that.
Not often does it happen that I get confused if a movie is a documentary or fiction? As the opening scene rolls out, it shows a group of young child monks running around. At first, the scene creates the impression that the next 15 minutes will be random shots showing the everyday life of monks and the gorgeous scenery. But as it moves forward it untangles a story in the everyday averageness.
The story follows Sonam and Tashi, two 11-year-olds living in a monastery. By having their life devoted to Buddhism, it’s not like they have the time to fool around. Or so might a person from the West think as they imagine young children sitting under a tree, seconds away from enlightenment.
In reality, the kids are… well, kids. They dislike school, tease one another, often mischievous, and in the case of Sonam and Tashi, can’t wait to go and buy a Coca Cola at the local market. Additionally, they like to group around a TV that’s almost smaller than an average tablet to watch football (soccer).
During the praying sessions, everyone gets a small amount of money from local donors, barely enough to buy a 0.3 bottle of Cola.
Although most of the kids, including Tashi, spend the money right away, Sonam decides to save to buy a ball. Used to exploiting Sonam for an extra gulp of sweet beverage, Tashi shows his annoyance with Sonam’s decision. This is where everything unravels. The story’s introduction, conflict, and of course, conclusion.
Since a review shouldn’t serve as a recap of a movie’s story, it’s time to shift the focus to other aspects of Yarne, more specifically, the directing, cinematography, and acting.
First of all acting. To my understanding, the cast consists of actual Buddhist monks. My guess is that there isn’t an acting class in the Buddhist “curriculum” for children (then again, I’m not all that familiar with the Buddhist educational system). The reason this is pointed out is to praise the kids’ acting.
Emotions needed for a specific scene can be clearly seen on their faces. Happiness, guilt, anger. All these emotions I’d had a hard time pulling off even if I spent days gazing at the mirror.
This is further adorned by fantastic cinematography and camera work. Although it creates the initial impression of a documentary, the mixture of documentary-like camera work and fantastic acting creates this weird hybrid that simply works. Lastly, this all comes together and is made possible by Krakower’s directing and first-hand experience of living inside a Buddhist temple.
Last but not least; the conclusion. As Sonam finally saved enough money to buy a ball (the movie does a great work of showing how long it takes Sonam to do that), the story unravels.
It’s tempting to say what happens in the end and share my opinion about the ending itself, but that would ruin the experience.
I’ll just say that the ending makes you feel what Sonam feels, even if it is just a cheap soccer ball and not the future of the universe. Furthermore, it enrages you, just to provide solace as the final scene goes dark.