New jobs are still hard to come by, but have hope, flyover America: There are always sneaky “documentary” satirists who desperately need your participation. Filming in the same vein that Sacha Baron Cohen mined before getting too famous, NYC director-star Vikram Gandhi grew out his beard and curried up his accent to a Peter Sellers–worthy warble before heading out to Arizona as a self-styled guru and yogi. Gandhi has the flexible limbs—and morality—to gain a serious following; soon enough, he’s got a class of spiritual questers in his thrall, hissing like tigers and bowing to a photo of Osama bin Laden.
Despite Gandhi’s onscreen guilt and belated realization of the power he wields, his film is definitely poking (mild) fun at these people—a weird position to be in, as he basically comes to some labored hand-wringing over what should have been obvious to any wanna-be exploiter. His flock, which includes a death-row lawyer, an unhappily married soul-seeker and a struggling ex–drug addict, has more character than the shepherd; Kumaré struggles mightily to emerge from its well-rendered cleverness, and doesn’t begin to seriously explore the sense of emptiness plaguing too many. Predictably, the doc got a rousing reception at hipster-laden SXSW; real people might find it a touch easy.
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