Walk With Me is a feature-length documentary that may well only pique particular interest so, after its DVD release on 21 November, it’s no surprise it has received mixed reviews on its run up to the cinema release on the 5th of January, 2018.
There’s no denying that directors Max Pugh and Mark J Francis are masters of fraught cinematography, an example of which we saw in their critically acclaimed Black Gold  that exposed the exploitation of Ethiopian Coffee Farmers. What Walk With Me offers is unlike that of any other motion picture; It’s transformative but not in an Eat, Pray, Love way. No, this goes beyond, reaches deeper into the psyche where the essence of the monastery extends beyond the screen and reaches you in an empyreal way.
For ninety minutes, you witness the sexless lives of the nuns and monks who follow the teachings of their master; notorious Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh who they compare to Yoda from Star Wars. I won’t comment on that comparison, but to watch the Buddhist master is truly a truly remarkable experience. Hanh was forced into exile in 1966 for attempting to bring peace during the Vietnam War, he’s a truly remarkably man. It’s not often I find respect for people so easily although I’m confident enough to say that if enough people were vested in his visceral teachings, the world would be a better place.
The film follows the narrative of the world-leading mindfulness practice centre’s ideology of peace away from materialism and mourning that in the 21st century we leave ourselves vulnerable to. It offers an intimate exploration of determination to gain a reprieve from Westernisation whilst the rest of the world is drained by politics, their everyday existential crisis’, and the latest installation of terrorism. It’s a shame that the invitation to learn their theology is limited throughout the duration of the documentary. Apart from the sporadic, poetic narration of Hanh’s early journals by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose voice resonates so deeply, that it’s impossible not to feel his words lingering in your mind as you share in the enlightening experience.
If you’re anything like me, then you will have threatened to run away and live with the monks once or twice in your life. Walk With Me gives you a unique insight into their lives through unprecedented access. The filming of this documentary was the first time they had ever allowed cameras inside the monastery to capture their trials and tribulations after the community have given up all of their possessions for a common aim.
Walk With Me is a self-exploratory treat, that is so poignantly paced you can feel yourself immersing in each and every breath, snap of a twig, boot in the dirt, beat of the drum and song of a bird. There’s no need for a soundtrack to spoil the masterpiece in serenity which the directors have captured through the makings of this film. You simply just allow yourself to be present, in the moment without feeling the need to know what’s coming next.