If you’re a big fan of comedies made in Bhutan (and who isn’t?), you’ll love “The Cup.”
Otherwise, it’s a pretty gentle, occasionally funny movie about a Tibetan monastery in India in which the teen-age monks are more interested in the World Cup playoffs than in monkery.
These young fellows, led by the rascally Orgyen (Jamyang Lodro), often sneak out at night to a nearby village that has a TV, where they watch the soccer games with great interest. They pass each other notes during prayer and meditation time, telling the last night’s scores.
One gets the sense that being a kid and being a monk at the same time is much like being a kid and being ANYTHING at the same time: You’re still a kid, regardless of whatever reverent circumstances you may be in.
The monastery’s leaders, Geko (Orgyen Tobgyal) and the abbot (Lama Chonjor) are a bit concerned about this preoccupation with soccer, but there is little tension there before their concern turns to bemusement. (“It’s two civilized nations fighting over a ball,” Geko explains to the abbot.)
In fact, the film goes to great lengths to avoid much tension. The kids want to rent a TV and satellite dish to watch the final game, and that problem is speedily solved. Even the potential drama of a homesick kid’s prized possession possibly being lost forever is dealt with before we get much chance to worry about it.
Many of the actors are from a Tibetan refugee settlement near the Chokling Monastery, a real-life place in India … and it shows. The acting is none-too-good, save for Jamyang Lodro, who plays the irrepressible Orgyen as a Tibetan Bart Simpson, a schemer with a good heart. Everyone else is stilted and flat, and the film just sort of limps along gamely until it finally ends.
C (; )