Heaven is a Hole in One in Golf in the Kingdom


Golf in the Kingdom
Directed by Susan Streitfeld
Opens July 29, AMC Empire 25

Spewing spiritual platitudes about golf with abandon, Golf in the Kingdom lionizes the sport as, among other overblown things, "an X-ray of the soul," "a microcosm of the world," and "the yoga of the supermind." Based on Michael Murphy's popular 1971 novel, writer/director Susan Streitfeld's film tells the tale of young cipher Michael Murphy (Mason Gamble), who, while traveling to India in search of enlightenment, stops to play a game at Scotland's Burningbush course and, paired with philosopher-guru Shivas Irons (David O'Hara), experiences his own mystical awakening. Even that basic plot description, however, implies a lucidity that doesn't truly exist in the movie. From the outset, Streitfeld hopscotches back and forth over her tale's 24 hours with a self-conscious aesthetic affectation (overlapping imagery, shifting camera speeds, elliptical edits) that demolishes any intelligible character or plot development, resulting in a story comprised of pretentious meditative fragments. Whether spending time at a dinner table with Shivas's full-of-themselves pals, or accompanying Michael and Shivas as they journey to find a legendary sage and scream at the ocean, the film proves devoid of thematic coherence or consequence. The final ball in the bunker: pensive upward-tilting shots of treetops that ineffectually strive for Terrence Malick lyricism.


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