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Enlighten Up! Inspects the Proliferation of Yoga

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Enlighten Up!
Directed by Kate Churchill
Opens April 1, IFC Center

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There are a number of tensions at play in Kate Churchill's Enlighten Up!, a documentary about the proliferation of yoga as both spiritual path and commercial workout culture, and the vigor with which the believers will try to convert the skeptics. What's frustrating about this otherwise friendly, lightweight look at the diverse world of yoga practitioners-which welcomes the earnest and the fatuous, the hippie and the hypocrite, with equally open, rippling arms-is that its director winds up focusing on the least interesting/most predictable tension of them all, that which arises between herself and her handpicked, inflexible star. Churchill, a lithe, centered believer, recruits Nick Rosen, a bland, atheistic young journalist, to help her prove the dubious but documentary-ready premise that yoga can "transform" anyone. Churchill creates a yoga-tasting menu for Nick, guiding him through various schools and varying degrees of kook-dom, and touching (too lightly) on one of the phenomenon's ironies: enlightenment for sale. The duo travels to India and, after several months, in a further American, results-oriented irony, Churchill grows impatient for her subject's big breakthrough. When a modest version of that breakthrough arrives, you get the feeling the director wants to tell her Godless charge not to choke on it.

 
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