Tom Waller Directed Thai language film “Mindfulness and Murder” is a murder mystery set in a Buddhist monastery. After the body of a teenager is found within the monastery, the zen like former police detective-turned-monk Father Ananda (Vithaya Pansringarm) steps in to investigate when the police refuse to help. The death spark suspicions between the monks and the local youth and Father Ananda quickly uncovers some dark secrets hidden behind the saffron cloths.
Accidental sleuth Father Ananda’s sidekick is a young, differently abled temple boy named Jak (Pakapong Sangkasi) with whom he forges a special father-and-son relationship. It’s not long before he unmasks a web of corruption and a drug ring within the monastery itself.
“The body of a dead homeless youth turns up in a Bangkok monastery and the police don’t want to get involved. Former homicide detective Father Ananda is now a senior monk and is asked by the abbot to solve the murder. Based on a novel by Bangkok resident Nick Wilgis, the film explores the intimate world of a Thai Buddhist monastery while following the rules of a classic whodunit. And as usual, not everything turns out to be what it at first seems. Starring Vithaya Pansringarm as Father Ananda, with two pop music personalities in leading roles, Prinya “Way” Intachai, one of the rappers in Thaitanium, and Charina Sirisinha of the ZaZa.”
The mystery’s plot is helped by flashbacks illustrating the key narratives when they’re needed so even if you missed something crucial, it’s alluded to in time. The stunning visual backdrop of rural Thailand makes the film seem like an exotic Agatha Christie mystery.
The movie benefits from defined characters and personalities from the cranky exccentric Abbot (Jaran ‘See Tao’ Petcharoen) to main the three monk suspects: Satchapalo (Prinya Intachai) Brother Kittisaro (Sunon Wachirawarakarn) and Brother Suchinno (Kitsada Hongsakrai).
The movie is as you would expect from anything set in a Buddhist temple, the pace is calm and zen like. Even when the monks are in a rush, the gently amble to their destination awkwardly in flip flops, if they were going for comic effect then they were sucessful.
For most of the world, the inside a Buhddist monastery itself is the mystery and this film gives us a glimpse of what it might be like (even if it is entirely fictional). We also get to spend 90 minutes on a trip to Thailand with picture postcard views at ground level and even a trip on a long-tail boat.
You don’t need to be religious or a world-film enthusiast to enjoy this film. It’s beautifully shot, well acted and scripted so that even if you’re not quick at picking up the plot, it will keep you informed every step of the way. It might be another land on the other side of the world but there is enough in the characters to be able to relate to whilst enough mystery to keep us intreagued.
Mindfulness and Murder is showing at The International Bhuddist Film Festival in London Apollo Picadilly on April 12 2012 where Director Tom Waller is expected to attend.