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Cinequest Review: ‘The Ashram’

In Culture
WHOAH DUDE: White Castle is in Kal Penn's rearview.

WHOAH DUDE: White Castle is in Kal Penn's rearview.

Haunted by a vision of a vanished girlfriend, Jamie (Sam Keeley) searches the remote foothills of the Himalayas for her, lured by various clues to a guru with a glorious wooden palace in the pines.

Chandra (Melissa Leo) the blissed-out disciple of the guru claims no knowledge of the lady in question. Then Jamie starts to get clues from Nitin (Kal Penn) that someone isn’t telling the truth. Mountain View-bred filmmaker Ben Rekhi cooks up haunting atmosphere that dispels when the story changes course in the third act—what starts out like Laura ends up as Doctor Strange, and, worse, The Celestine Prophecy.

Still: Penn’s explanation of why he decides to help—“It’s the right thing to do”—is the kind of straightforward exposition that filmmakers too often avoid. The scenery is splendid, and it’s always worthwhile to see this much of the Oscar-winning Leo (The Fighter);  usually responsible for ten or fifteen great minutes in a movie, Leo gets a chance to be alternately warm and ominous.

The Ashram
Tue, Mar 6, 4:45pm, HAM | Fri, Mar 9, 2pm, RWC

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