Critic Consensus: It's a tad heavy-handed in its message, but Samsara's overwhelmingly beautiful visuals more than compensate for any narrative flaws.
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Critic Reviews for Samsara
One doesn't have to be a Buddhist to perceive themes of circularity and renewal in Samsara, but it takes that level of patience to suffer its frequent low points with silence and good humour.
A continuous flow of images of the natural world and the human tide that dominates it.
A Balinese dancer, an African tribesman, a disfigured marine, a Japanese stripper all stand composed, confident, and dignified, daring you to break the gaze.
Achingly beautiful and visually transfixing, Samsara offers a transporting vacation from the usual multiplex fare. It's a movie to get lost in.
"Samsara" finds the world a little less blessed than it was two decades ago, yet still beautiful, which seems to be the movie's primary message.
Audience Reviews for Samsara
Wordless, surprising documentary featuring time-lapse photography of the desert at night, Cambodian monks constructing a sand mandala, trips to a slaughterhouse and a sex doll factory, and other visual surprises, all set to a soundtrack of (very good) New Agey/world music. A meditative "what you make of it" experience that's something like attending a slideshow of vacation photos shot by the world's greatest photographers.
'Samsara'. The beauty and brutality of our world, both man-made and natural, on a scale you've never seen. The visual medium, used perfectly. There's a hypnotic, rhythmic quality to 'Samsara', with recurring elements like the time lapse, manufacturing plant, night to day, and the symmetry of large numbers of people moving together. The framing and cinematography are exquisite. Consumerism runs deeply through the film, and at times, strikes as a little heavy-handed / preachy, but it is what it is, as is our world.
Well, this is kind of impossible to review. Well, not impossible, but certainly difficult. I watched this film, not sure of what to expect (if I should expect anything from a film that describes itself as "search[ing] for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives") and I got a bizarre experience to say the least. The best way I can describe it as a filmed meditation on the cycles of the world and mocking the insanity of American culture (in certain regards mind you). The movie doesn't really start in a cohesive fashion, but by about the 10 minute mark you'll wrap your head around the way the "narrative" works. Once you do this, the movie is a beautifully shot work of art, but possibly a bit too on the nose about its message. Great film overall though. Find a local theater that's showing it (I had to drive an hour and 10 minutes to find a place that was showing it near me) and give it a try.
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