The Cup Review

Image for The Cup

Orgyen is a novice in a Buddist Monestary who is obsessed with football. His indiscrete jaunts to the nearby village have been noticed, and he faces a struggle between his morals, duties and his desire to watch the world cup.


There's something curiously reassuring about the fact that it's taken Bhutan 104 years to produce its first ever motion picture. But for this tiny Asian country to make its debut with a film of such unassuming wit, charm and wisdom is postively inspirational.

Having learnt his trade as an assistant to Bernardo Bertolucci on Little Buddha, Khyentse Norbu, who is revered as one of the most important incarnate lamas in the Tibetan tradition, has created a wonderful gem that takes the teenpic into totally uncharted territory. It's the summer of 1998 and Orgyen (Lodro), a novice in a Buddhist monastery in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, is obsessed with the World Cup, even to the extent of wearing his beloved Ronaldo T-shirt under his robes.

However, his nocturnal jaunts to the nearby village to watch the games on satellite have incurred the wrath of his tutor, Geko (Tobgyal), who hopes to elevate Orgyen's mind to more spiritual matters by placing two newly-arrived exiles in his care. But what's obedience when the abbot (Chonjor) has miraculously given permission to hire a dish for the final, and kick-off is only hours away?

If the gently humorous tale was all there was to this sublime film, it would still be remarkable. But it also has the simplicity and grace of the shadow puppet show with which one monk entertains the new-found football fans during a power cut. Alluding to the need for tradition and progress to co-exist, Norbu draws a wry comparison between the serene wisdom of the abbot and Orgyen's daily struggle with mischief and duty, which almost causes him to miss the match as he wonders how to redeem the watch (belonging to his youngest Tibetan charge) that he's pawned to rent the TV. Beautifully observed and exquisitely played, this is one to treasure.

Beautifully observed and exquisitely played, this is one to treasure.