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The Acclaimed Zen Comedy by Award-winning Director Doris Dorrie
A brilliant comedy about self discovery. Washington Post
Snappy, well-scripted comedy. Variety
A warm, closely observed satire of lived life, and it is a charmer. SF Chronicle
Brothers Uwe and Gustav are comfortable middle class family men in modern Munich. An unexpected divorce and a long planned retreat suddenly collide, and they're on their own, lost in Tokyo. Finally arriving at a Zen monastery, can they find their way?
Filmed on location at Sojiji Monastery, Monzen, Japan
About the Director
Director Doris Dörrie is a celebrated German author, film director and opera director best known for her break-through 1985 film, Men... (Männer...). She is a long term student of Zen Buddhism, and her most recent film, Cherry Blossoms, like Enlightenment Guaranteed, was filmed on location in Germany and Japan, and touches on impermanence, reality and compassion.
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The humor comes mostly from the sparks given off in the clash of cultures, German/Japanese as well as Christian/Buddhist. Uwe's middle-class world is turned upside down when his wife leaves with the kids. His sympathetic brother Gustav takes him along to his meditation retreat at the Soto Zen monastery at Monzen (a real temple in Ishikawa prefecture). Before getting to the monastery and the more insightful part of the film, the brothers stumble through a number of misadventures in Tokyo.
Director Doris Dörrie appears to have been overwhelmed with the glittery facade of Japan, including tired Asian philosophical cliches about emptiness and no-self. This actually works out fine within context; one might expect her two innocents abroad to be infatutaed by such bromides. Where her sensitivity shines through is in not only having her characters come to understand the significance in these cliches, but also in having them work out a framework into which to fit their Japan experiences, giving their lives a trajectory for resolving inner conflicts.
Shot on digital video, the film looks more like a home movie. But unlike more expensive, better looking films that leave you feeling empty, Enlightenment Guaranteed will leave you with a smile and perhaps a new way to look at life.
Watching two Germans navigate Japan is fun and seeing them adopt the zen point of view is enlightening. I liked the movie.