Everything Zen: David Prior on "The Empty Man"

Everything Zen: David Prior on
Over and again throughout The Empty Man, we see characters sitting in the lotus position, cross-legged and attentive, a pose connoting receptivity. It is in the migration of this mindset from snowy Bhutan to small-town Missouri, muled from East to West by the unlucky occidental tourist who doubles as its title character, that David Prior’s film locates both its celestial sense of scale and a fine-grained gestural specificity. After literally stumbling into a cliffside cavern—the first unexpected plunge in a movie whose characters constantly find themselves either on shaky ground or descending into a darkness of their own volition—Paul (Aaron Poole) becomes transfixed by a skeletal figure whose meditative posture he adopts, seemingly permanently and much to the bewilderment of his fellow backpackers. Dragged back to the surface, he has become a husk, limbs locked and rapidly atrophying, staring out at the world with eyes wide shut.
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