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Dreaming Lhasa (Unrated)





Release Date: April 13th, 2007 (Imaginasian) by First Run Features.
The Cast: Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso, Jampa Kalsang, Tenzin Jigme, Phuntsok Namgyal Dhumkhang, Tsering Topgyal Phurpatsang. Directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam.
In English and Tibetan with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Kharma (Gyatso) helps Dhondup (Kalsang), an ex-monk, locate a missing man so that he could pass along to him his motherís charm box.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Dreaming Lhasa has an initially intriguing plot that gradually quickly becomes unfocused, dull and convoluted. Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso gives a mediocre performance as Kharma, an American-Tibetan who travels from New York City to Tibet to make a documentary about political prisoners who had fled Tibet. She interviews one of the prisoners, Dhondup, and discovers that his mother wants him to find a missing man, Loga, to give him a special charm box. Throughout the second act, Kharma and Dhondup go on a mission together to find Logaís whereabouts which allows for some suspenseóthey donít even know if heís alive or what his relation to Dhondupís mother is. Screenwriter Tenzing Sonam includes an underdeveloped, distracting subplot involving a romantic triangle between Kharma, Dhondup and Karmaís assistant (Jigme). Moreover, Kharma has very little chemistry with either potential love interest. Not enough happens to keep you intrigued until later in the second act when a few interesting plot twists occur. Sonam should have added more imaginative character development for Loga, Dhondup and his mother or at least fine-tuned the dialogue to make it much more organic flowing and less stilted. On a positive note, co-directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam do an impressive job of capturing the beauty of Tibet in all of its vivid colors and breathtaking sights. Too bad itís not as absorbing as last yearís superior gem from China, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The overarching message is the importance of embracing your roots, which isnít explored as deeply as in Mira Nairís much more moving culture-clash film The Namesake.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Often unfocused, dull and convoluted plot with weak character development.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 6

IN A NUTSHELL: Lush cinematography and initially intriguing, but often unfocused, dull and convoluted with weak character development.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: TV


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