Walk With Me – Review
by Harry Mathieson
Walk With Me is a meandering and appropriately meditative documentary that shines a light on the lives of the monks and nuns in France’s Plum Village monastery, headed by Zen master and modern mindfulness pioneer Thich Nhat Hanh.
For those uninterested in meditation or Buddhist practice the film may be an inevitably tedious affair, a fact which perhaps sheds more light on modern attention spans than on the quality of the documentary itself. Featuring occasional voiceover passages from Benedict Cumberbatch, the goings-on at the monastery are interspersed with lengthy shots of life moving in its natural state; ladybirds scuttle thunderously across bamboo mats, raindrops scatter on once-silent ponds. At one stage we witness a host of laypeople visit the monastery and share in their emotion before a powerful choral performance of monks and nuns in a scene which reveals the universal power these teachings have for so many. Outside the monastery, we follow the ascetics as they travel to the United States, coming face to face with the busyness and commercialisation of modern life in a polarity at once charmingly humorous and humanising.
In all, Walk With Me functions as much as a meditation in its own right as it does as a film. Those too busy to spend an hour and a half in quiet contemplation, perhaps, would be the first to leave the cinema with a newly profound sense of calmness. The monastery bells, ringing every fifteen minutes as a call to mindfulness and awareness of the present moment, are something we could all do with amongst the busy stresses and strains of modern life.