'The Highest Pass': A cold motorcycle ride through Himalayas
A movie review of "The Highest Pass," a dull, distant documentary that follows the journey of eight motorcyclists as they ascend through the Himalayas to find wisdom, though filmmaker Jon Fitzgerald can't quite tell us how or why.
Special to The Seattle Times
'The Highest Pass,' a documentary directed by Jon Fitzgerald, from a screenplay by Adam Schomer. 90 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Meridian.
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Sometimes the only legitimate answer to the question of why people do dangerous things, such as climb Mount Everest or sail the Atlantic Ocean solo, is this: You'd have to be there to understand.
In "The Highest Pass," we are there, sort of, for the perils of riding motorcycles through the Himalayas. Sounds fun, but in fact this dull documentary looks and feels like a season of MTV's "The Real World" set in mountainous India.
Directed by Jon Fitzgerald, "The Highest Pass" follows a difficult adventure by spiritual seekers. Fitzgerald captures many a hardship on their journey but can't quite deliver on the trip's transcendent benefit.
The film tracks eight bikers (including Seattle's Eric Braff) as they ride 1,200 miles through icy, treacherous mountain passes to reach an altitude over 18,000 feet. They are led by 27-year-old yogi Anand Mehrotra, who has been living under a prediction about an early death.
Mehrotra decides to ride his motorcycle on a hazardous ascent from Rishikesh through the Himalayas as a way to overcome anxiety about that prophecy and feel more alive. The other bikers tag along, suffering accidents and sniping via the kind of reality-TV-like interviews that seem out of place in a project like this.
In the end, everyone seems to find bliss. But something essential about how and why is not coming through. Part of the problem might be that while Fitzgerald is along for the ride, he doesn't acknowledge it or his own experience. The result is a distancing effect that leaves "The Highest Pass" a cold movie.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org