19 January 2005 | Lechuguilla
Eastern Wisdom Meets Western Greed
OM is an ancient Hindu mantra, or sacred chant, that originated in Eastern cultures, and is used all over the world in spiritual practices such as yoga. OM is also an acronym for "Ordinary Magic", a low budget, indie film about a teenage boy (Ryan Reynolds) who, after having lived in India all his life and having learned spiritual ideas taught in India, moves to Canada to live with his aunt (Glenne Headly). The boy thus transports his knowledge and practice of Eastern religion to a totally different culture. In the story, both he and the people with whom he interacts must deal with ideas and ways of living that seem strange.
Part of the film's plot involves a greedy developer (Paul Anka) who tries to force the boy's aunt to leave her ancestral home, to make room for condos. The resulting conflict presents an opportunity for the boy to apply the spiritual principle of "satyagraha", as a way to resolve the conflict. The film's message here is rather simplistic, but archetypal. It's a clash between East and West, of materialism and religion, of David and Goliath.
"Ordinary Magic" is an unusual film. Some Westerners will be put off by its none too subtle message. Others will find the message refreshing. Because of its low key style and contemplative screenplay, I personally found OM to be a welcome change from the usual, mindless junk churned out by the Hollywood peddlers of violence and gore.