After finding success with his "the boy who would be king" epic, The Last Emperor, Bernardo Bertolucci may have been trying to take things a step further with this "the boy who would be Buddha" story. Despite the negative words of many critics, the film is actually a rather compelling film that mixes a contemporary soul-searching tale with the traditional story of Siddhartha. Truthfully, most weren't sure what to make of Little Buddha at first glance. After all, the casting of musician and sometime actor Chris Isaak in his first lead role and, in an especially bold move, uber-white-boy Keanu Reeves as the first Buddha would give pause to anyone. But, contrary to what many think, it works for the most part. The relationships between Isaak, his wife (Bridget Fonda), and their son (Alex Wiesendanger) are incredibly human and believable -- quite a task considering their extraordinary situation -- and the flashbacks to Reeves in ancient India add an appropriate and often whimsical balance to the film. While it's definitely not for everyone and will never sit among Bertolucci's masterpieces, Little Buddha is an interesting film worthy of an open-minded look.
by Matthew Tobey review