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Bhutanese director Neten Chokling's fantasy Milarepa mounts and cinematizes an ancient Buddhist legend -- a moral fable from the eponymous monk's colorful early life. The story unfolds in the 11th century, when Milarepa (Jamyang Lodro) -- christened Thopaga -- unexpectedly loses his father, and finds his life plunged into a bleak hell. His vile aunt and uncle, Peydon and Gyalsten (played by Lhakpa Tsamchoe and Gonpo, respectively), seize control of the deceased's inheritance and force Thopaga, his mother, Kargyen (Kelsang Chukie Tethtong), and his sister, Peta (Tashi Lhamo), into a… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Milarepa is a sort of Batman Begins version of the early life of renowned Tibetan saint Jetsun Milarepa (1052-1135)."
‑ Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
"While the drama is rather poky, Jamyang Lordo plays the part with dignified restraint."
‑ Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"By-the-book mythmaking: stately, straightforward and not too interesting. The story . . . falls flat on film, a moody, visual medium, tremendously difficult to rework into a mirror for introspective, spiritual transformation."
‑ Brian Gibson, Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
"The first of a two-part film about the life of an 11th-century Tibetan mystic, Milarepa evokes a time when sorcery was a poor man's way of making war, and the sight of yogis flying through the sky was commonplace."
‑ Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Milarepa is surprisingly flat and unexciting."
‑ Jeff Vice, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint, a picturesque fable filmed in the mountains of northern India, shows us how most -- if not all -- roads to spiritual enlightenment are paved with suffering."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"One tonic for a stressful day: Spend 90 minutes with an 11th-century Tibetan mystic who wanders through gorgeous Himalayan scenery"
‑ Don Willmott,
"instructional value and exposure to Tibetan culture and values make this a worthwhile venture"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"Buddhism teaches that suffering is inseparable from existence. Suffering is certainly inseparable from the experience of watching Milarepa."
‑ Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star
"First-time filmmaker Neten Chokling, himself a great Tibetan meditation master, has made a remarkable film using nonprofessional actors and a mostly nonprofessional crew."
‑ Jean Lowerison, San Diego Metropolitan
"Despite timely and worthwhile subject matter, there is nothing very inspired or inspiring in what makes it to the screen."
‑ Janice Page, Boston Globe
"Earnestly capturing in spirit the emergence of a holy man."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Viewers with a pre-established interest in 11th-century Tibetan history should find Milarepa fascinating, but those without won't find much to engage them in this nicely shot but stilted biopic of a legendary magician-turned-monk from that era."
‑ Marc Mohan, Oregonian
"For enlightenment on Milarepa's life, we apparently have to wait for the sequel."
‑ Sean Means, Salt Lake Tribune
"The movie is so oddly structured that it can't sustain engagement on the story level; I wish I liked it more."
‑ Marrit Ingman, Austin Chronicle
More reviews for Milarepa on Rotten Tomatoes