SXSW 2017: Walk With Me Review

One of the most calming documentaries you’re likely to ever see is “Walk with Me,” a documentation of Zen Buddhists and their community of Plum Village in France. The film, by Marc Francis and Max Pugh, is a thoroughly meditative piece cinema, using atmosphere created from still images of monks and nuns in silence and strong sound design of the world around them. It doesn’t have characters so much as recurring faces, and only in the second half does it start to reveal where these people, from all different walks of life and countries, had originally existed. They all now live in a clear, very curious state of contentment.

Narration is provided by Benedict Cumberbatch, who reads the words of famous teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. His voice is another ingredient to the stillness of the project, delivering the endless poetry with his baritone voice, extremely mindful of delicacy and warmth. Whether his involvement in this documentary is related to his previous work on “Doctor Strange” or not, Cumberbatch is a welcome presence for a documentary about sharing the experience. Even if it is more observational or than it is life changing, “Walk with Me” makes for a unique documentary spectacle, especially as it explores the power of silence and clarity.