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Movie review: An unnecessary detour in 'The Highest Pass'

Beautiful Indian vistas take a back seat to repetitive testimonials in the documentary about a motorcycle caravan in the Himalayas.

April 27, 2012|By Robert Abele, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Indian yogi Anand Mehrotra is followed in the documentary "The Highest Pass" as he leads a group of motorcycle riders up the world's highest drivable mountain pass.
Indian yogi Anand Mehrotra is followed in the documentary "The Highest… (Cinema Libre Studio )

Jon Fitzgerald's documentary "The Highest Pass" ventures from Rishikesh in northern India up and up into the Himalayas to track six men and one woman — all Westerners — as they follow a 27-year-old yogi in a motorcycle caravan to the highest drivable road in the world.

For the team, one of whom (narrator-writer Adam Schomer) has just learned how to ride a motorcycle in the weeks prior, the excursion seems a little more daring than usual since Anand Mehrotra, their handsome guide, has never made the pilgrimage himself. (Although he frequently takes time for calming words and meditation breaks, he also has "CRAZY" emblazoned on his helmet.)

Hair-raising mountain turns into oncoming truck traffic provide genuine tension early on — and lead to a few accidents — but the adventure mellows out considerably, oddly enough, the higher up they get, as busy roads give way to stunning terrain.

Despite the picturesque subject, though, and amiable tone, "The Highest Pass" isn't all that cinematically contemplative, opting too often for repetitive testimonials about everyone's feelings about letting go, and rote documentary editing rhythms, when uninterrupted, unnarrated cinematography of such an incredible landscape would just as assuredly signal the allure of so unusual a journey.

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