We're No Monks is a 128 minute feature film about the making of a Tibetan terrorist. The debut project from a Tibetan writer/director staring a mostly amateur Tibetan cast, it is at best a watchable movie. The main character is well drawn and acted and generates some interest and empathy, but the remainder of the cast is rather one-dimensional, the film is overlong and drags in the middle, and except for the last 20 minutes there is very little sense of drama or suspense, just four lads, exile Tibetan slackers trying to find their way in the world of the Tibetan exile capital of Dharamsala, India.
Writer/director Pema Dhondup produced a multi-layered script featuring a writer/actor rehearsing a play about an act of terrorism against a Chinese diplomat, a mute who lives through his video camera and whose footage is intercut with the main story, and a final mission in New Dehli with a clever misdirect. It's too bad he left in all the silly stuff in the middle, with the kids getting drunk and stoned, chasing after white girls, and being harassed by the Indian cop who seems to never sleep and to be on any street corner where the boys show up.
Party delek (and don't forget to invite the white girls)
Give Dhondup credit for the effort that went into making a film about the modern life of secular NRCs, Non Resident Chinese, in the Himalayan Indian hill town of Dharamsala. It's easy these days to make money off the Dalai Lama or Tibetan Buddhism, maybe not so easy to tell the story of how a young man could be turned into a suicide bomber for Tibetan independence.
For a tauter film with similar themes, see Paradise Now.