After the toddler is deemed a reincarnated lama, his father wonders aloud if he will ever see him once he's taken to a monastery. A monk tells the father, as the lama totters around, gripping a teddy bear, that his son has many students around the world. Tears form in his mother's eyes after she consents to give up her son, who has gone from a squealing, runny-nosed kid to a revered, runny-nosed figure overnight. It's a scene that encapsulates all the tones of the documentary "Unmistaken Child": adorable, moving, bewildering, sad and, ultimately, peaceful.
The film follows the four-year quest for the reincarnation of a world-renowned Tibetan master who died in 2001. The master's charming disciple, Tenzin Zopa, scours villages for evidence of rebirth. When he makes a special connection with one particular child, Tenzin initiates a process that will take both him and the possible reincarnation of his master all the way to the Dalai Lama for confirmation.
"Unmistaken Child" manages to personalize and typify the concept of reincarnation -- to consider the matter of trekking between huts, of placating a toddler who doesn't understand the difference between Buddha and breakfast -- without losing reverence for the concept. Israeli filmmaker Nati Baratz wisely understands that the emotional center of the film is Tenzin. Having worked for his master since he was 7, Tenzin is on a trek that is less about reincarnation than it is about reunion, which is something that everyone can understand and appreciate.
-- Dan Zak (July 3, 2009)
Contains nothing objectionable.