In 2013, French documentary-maker Thomas Balmès made a movie referred to as Happiness, about an eight-year-old monk referred to as Peyangki within the distant Himalayan village of Laya in Bhutan – and the way this boy was responding to the astounding novelties of TV and the web. Now seven years later, Balmès has returned to Laya and to Peyangki, who has grown to younger maturity on this courageous new digital world.
What Balmès has chanced upon now usually are not merely extra cases of how the net has opened or closed that harmless thoughts: he provides us a tragic and sombre love story from the globalised twenty first century. Mainly, Peyangki is now often neglecting his spiritual research and is hooked on his smartphone and to the net, although arguably no extra so than every other younger individual within the developed world. And specifically he’s into the Chinese language video service WeChat, via which he’s often speaking to a girl referred to as Ugyen, apparently a bar hostess in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, who sings songs for him.
Ultimately, the 2 meet within the huge metropolis: Ugyen clearly didn’t fairly grasp that he was so younger and a trainee monk (slightly than a probably well-off farmer, which she assumed from his tales about accumulating and promoting mushrooms). And he didn’t realise that she had a small baby and is, in any case, pondering of quitting the nation for 2 years to do home work in Kuwait.
It’s a subdued movie, and watching it’s like repeatedly strolling up a slight gradient. Balmès has subtly guided the tales of his two principals, although the setup is sometimes a bit of uncomfortable, as when the monk’s grasp tells Peyangki’s good friend to seek for him within the metropolis. A considerate portrait of separate lives and destinies.
• Launched on 1 January in cinemas and on digital codecs.