Review by Camden Ferrell
The Mindfulness Movement is the newest documentary from director Robert Beemer. This film also comes from executive producers Deepak Chopra and Jewel. While the methods might be valid to many, the execution is very poor and lacks the skills to reliably convey its heavy-handed message.
This movie is about the idea of mindfulness, which is described as a type of meditation based on peaceful attentiveness and presence. We see how mindfulness has affected the lives of many individuals such as Grammy-nominee Jewel as well as TV anchor and correspondent Dan Harris. This is a growing movement, and it is a form of secular meditation that might be beneficial, but the movie has a hard time of communicating its ideas effectively.
From the start, it’s obvious that its execution is poor. The editing is choppy and inconsistent, and it feels like it has a difficult time finding its own rhythm. The B-roll is unimpressive, and it seems as if a lot of the footage could have come from stock photos. It doesn’t have a lot of personality or life to make it interesting. Even if its intentions are in the right place, it gets bogged down heavily by the way the film was put together.
The narration is also very forgettable. It can often be lackluster, and it doesn’t do much to spice up the film in any way. The film does rarely succeed in its subjects though. The film mostly intercuts between four stories, and each details the ways in which mindfulness has changed someone’s life. Jewel and Dan Harris are by far the most interesting subjects (not a surprise considering their line of work), and there are some emotional backstories for these people, but it still can feel underwhelming more times than not. Again, while the film’s heart is always in the right place, it can’t help but feel like their interviews are shallower than they should have been.
This documentary feels like an infomercial for most of its runtime, and it constantly feels like a sales pitch. While it’s the point of a documentary to send a message, the film tries to do so in a way that cheapens its effect. They provide some supporting evidence for mindfulness from people who have experienced it to those who have implemented it in prisons and schools, but it still lacks the ethos to form a proper argument. The film also features an “interactive” portion of the video which didn’t seem to be as effective as I had hoped. If one is interested in mindfulness, it would most likely behoove them to do their own research about the method and read about it rather than watch the documentary which probably doesn’t go in depth nearly as well.
The Mindfulness Movement is consistently well-meaning, but it lacks the execution, argument, and personality to tell its story and properly relay its message. This doesn’t diminish the positive potential of the movie or the ability of mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety, but it does diminish the film’s quality. A good documentary is ideally entertaining and educational, but this one is only a little bit of the latter.
The Mindfulness Movement will be available on the film's official site on April 10.