19 August 2004 | reedwaller
Buddhist Love Story
This stunningly beautiful film has a strong Buddhist theme, so it's unsurprising that many American viewers were perplexed by it even while captivated by its beauty. It is the story of Mui, a poor servant girl ... except she is no ordinary servant girl, she is an Enlightened One. She lives totally in the here and now, and sees and appreciates everything (and so do we, thanks to the breathtaking color cinematography). She quietly goes through her ordinary life, giving every tiny moment all her attention and invisibly enriching the lives of all those around her, until near the end of the picture she is given off to a family friend whom, coincidentally, she has fancied since she was little. He is engaged to another woman, but one day he picks up a bust of Buddha, and stares at it with recognition, realizing suddenly that the face and the smile of the Buddha are something he has been seeing every day, on Mui. He sees her for what she is, and both their lives are transformed. Even more astounding than the richness and beauty of this film, is the feat of finding two wonderful actresses 10 years apart, to play the same very unusual girl, both identically beautiful and graceful and having the Buddha smile. Intoxicating and unforgettable.