In Search of God: L.A. Party Girl Travels to India, Asks Life’s Big Questions


Purportedly about a quest for spiritual enlightenment and the question of what binds global religions, In Search of God is instead defined by simplistic philosophizing and rampant narcissism. The subject of Rupam Sarmah’s affected nonfiction film is Kavita, an American who, dissatisfied with her MIT education and subsequent L.A. party-girl life, travels to India’s “magical” Majuli Island to figure out—as both she and a European expat state—why rich Westerners are always frowning and poverty-stricken Easterners constantly smiling. The answer, it turns out, is that money doesn’t buy happiness; rather, lasting joy comes solely from communing with the God inside all of us. That clichéd revelation strikes Kavita as she visits priests, attends worship-driven artistic performances, and has monotonous conversations with her guide, Ram—discussions that are as intellectually dim as the dubbing used for most of their dialogue is clunky. The locals’ routines, many dating back hundreds of years, are often fascinating, but Sarmah’s main concern is Kavita, who’s incessantly seen in close-ups watching others, or writing on her laptop and then turning to ruminatively gaze off in the distance. The only thing more noxious than such self-absorption is the use of collapsing–twin towers footage to bolster the film’s religion-is-love platitude.