Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to

Sing Me a Song

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Thoughtful, beautifully shot docu about influence of tech.

Movie NR 2021 100 minutes
Sing Me a Song Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

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Balmès chronicles Peyangki's youth and relative innocence in order to thoughtfully explore universal themes about coming of age, the influence of technology, and first love. It's brilliant of the director to begin with footage from Happiness, not only to orient those who are unfamiliar with the first documentary but also to remind everyone of how quiet the village used to be (at the time, Peyangki spent his free time running around, singing, and making himself a flower crown). Fast-forward a decade, and the monastery and other buildings are still there, but everyone is glued to their phones. It would be simplistic to call the movie a cautionary tale, because Balmès doesn't judge Peyangki for his actions; he just shows how incongruous the current behavior is from his past and the path set before him. Some of the film's most revelatory scenes aren't between Peyangki and Ugyen (this isn't really a love story, although romance is certainly a major element) but between Peyangki and a younger monk in his group at the monastery.

The moments between Peyangki and his younger monk friends are poignant and brutally honest. The older monks gently lecture Peyangki to no avail, but when a younger peer asks him to reconsider leaving the monastery, it's remarkably effective. The cinematography of the monastery's mountainside setting is gorgeous, highlighting the unique beauty of a place nearly lost in time. When the action switches to Bhutan's capital city, Thimphu, the shots are quicker, the sounds louder, and the setting crowded. Peyangki arrives in the big city to see whether he has a future with Ugyen, and he quickly realizes that life, love, and the future aren't what he imagined. This is a contemplative film with plenty of worthy themes to discuss, and it cements Balmès as one of the most interesting and globally minded documentarians working today.

Movie Details

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