One day I was standing in the back of a packed elevator in the Brill Building in New York City and as the doors were about to close the actor Bill Murray jumped in. While recuperating from a near-fatal car accident in 1985 I had stumbled upon his film "The Razor's Edge," which was a vanity project that the studio allowed him to make after the $200 million success of "Ghostbusters." Commercially "The Razor's Edge" bombed but it set me on a twenty-five year journey traveling around the world studying existentialism, Buddhism, yoga, music, film, literature, poetry, happiness, meditation, psychology, parapsychology and a few other subjects. Standing in that elevator that day I wanted to thank Bill Murray for opening up an entire universe to me through his little passion project, but there were too many people between us.
Good films open doors.
And this was the feeling I had watching "The Fourth Noble Truth."
In the film, which opens June 5th, Harry Hamlin from "Mad Men" plays Aaron, a movie star who has been found guilty of road rage. Fortunately for him, Aaron's lawyer knows that the judge is a big fan of a meditation instructor named Rachel played by Kristen Kerr from "Strictly Sexual." Egotistical and skeptical Aaron must learn mindfulness meditation from Rachel in order to impress the judge and get his sentence reduced. In their sessions together, Rachel tries to teach Aaron basic Buddhism and both characters end up learning valuable lessons.
Surprisingly, Harry Hamlin turns in a stellar performance as the womanizing Aaron and has quite good chemistry with Ms. Kerr, whose Rachel is very typical of many of my fellow meditation teachers. John Wellwood famously said, "There is no spiritual bypass;" although Rachel is a gifted teacher she has not done her psychological homework so she does not walk the talk.
Part love story, part meditation guide book, "The Fourth Noble Truth" is an intelligent, thought-provoking film about how mindfulness can change your life - similar to the way "The Razor's Edge" opened new doors for me thirty years ago.